TAYLOR (WWJ) – Just days following massive layoffs in the Taylor Fire Department, firefighters and supporters gathered to picket outside of City Hall.
Firefighter and Paramedic Sgt. Brad Hoffman said this was an informational picket. He said they want the community to know and understand the crisis the department is facing, now that 19 firefighters and EMT’s have been laid off.
“Right now we have some people that are doing 96 hours straight … between 48 and 96 hours straight trying to man our rigs after the layoffs,” Hoffman told WWJ’s Stephanie Davis.
“Eighteen or 19 layoffs — that’s a huge cut for us … Trying to provide the same service, that’s hard for us” he said.
Hoffman said morale is low within the department and many question the layoff’s savings, because now the department has to spend more money on overtime.
Much of the criticism from the firefighters union has been that Taylor Mayor Jeff Lamarand and City Council have not identified a cost target for this year’s budget.
For his part, the Mayor says that’s because gouging city revenues also remains a moving target.
“What we’ve been going back and forth with is the concept that there isn’t a target, as long as the finances of the city keep going down,” said Lamarand.
“Tax revenues keep going down, revenue sharing keeps going down. So, how can I give a target on employee costs that keep going up and fit x-amount of employees into it? That’s been the hardest part,” he said.
Lamarand told WWJ that, as a temporary fix, the city is trying to reallocate resources to fund the temporary return of six of the dismissed firefighters in the hope of buying time to reach a permanent contract agreement.