BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - Plans are being made for a layoff that
would involve 25 of the 100 firefighters in Boulder because of city
budget problems, officials said.
The city also could lose one fire engine, its only ladder truck
and a medical rescue squad.
"I don't know how you could even run a department like that,"
said Clayton Holmes, a Boulder firefighter and president of the
union. "It would mean response times would be a lot slower and we
just wouldn't have enough equipment or people to actually fight a
house fire."
The problem is more than just the stale economy that has been
troubling city and county governments, as well as the state budget.
Boulder's Fire Department gets funding from the general sales
tax and a special public safety sales tax, but voters last fall
refused to renew the public safety tax.
Officials are considering adding that to the November ballot
this year, but at the same time are assessing exactly what would be
needed if it would fail.
"The council wants that money to be found in the general fund
instead of from the public safety tax and we're working on that,"
said Kate Love, the city's budget director.
Fire Chief Larry Donner said he has been told to plan for a 20
percent budget cut, and the department also could lose five of 15
support staff jobs.
"Eighty-eight percent of our budget goes to pay benefits,"
Donner said. "Most of the other costs are fixed costs that we've
got to spend to get basic safety equipment and pay for dispatch
services."
The present safety tax will end in December, and unless it is
revived, will cost the city's $198 million budget about $3.7
million.


(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)