Cleveland Mayor Plans to Cut 700 Jobs, Eliminate 8 Fire Companies

CLEVELAND (AP) -- In an effort to balance the city's budget, the mayor announced plans Monday to cut more than 700 jobs, including hundreds of firefighters and police.

If unions don't agree to concessions, eight fire companies would be eliminated and the police mounted unit - the nation's second-oldest in the nation - would be disbanded.

Mayor Jane Campbell also plans to cut jobs from the Parks and Recreation Department and the Service Department to plug a projected $61 million gap for next year.

The cuts would include 15 percent of the city's police and firefighters - 263 of 1,817 police officers, and 150 of 992 firefighters. About 21 of 231 paramedics would be cut, or 7 percent.

Bob Fisher, president of the firefighters union, met with city officials at City Hall before Campbell's announcement. He said possible concessions were under negotiation.

Campbell also summoned the police and Emergency Medical Service unions to discuss ways to limit the pending layoffs, which could take effect within a month.

Campbell called the financial situation the worst since Cleveland went into default in 1978, when fellow Democrat Dennis Kucinich was mayor.

The looming deficit is the result of reduced state and federal aid, reduced city income tax collections, higher health-care costs and city employee pay and benefit hikes, Campbell said.

Cleveland employs nearly 5,900 workers. Other planned cuts include eliminating more than 300 seasonal positions for such tasks as snowplowing and trash pickup, and leaving 300 vacancies unfilled.