In response to the call to be prepared to cut 105 jobs out of the fire department, Chief Smokey Dyer of the Kansas City Fire Department brought the following changes of the operational configuration of the department to the city council this late morning, early afternoon:
1. In the northland, station 3 at 11101 N. Oak Traffic Way would change from a station with a pumper and a truck to a combo unit called a quint. So just one crew (set of crews really, 3 shifts worth of crews, and that applies to all of the following) would be required for station 3 instead of two.
2. Station 39, at 11400 E 47 street, would get the same treatment going from a pumper and a truck to a combo unit.
3. Station 36, at 99th and Holmes would get the same treatment as well.
4. Pumper 32, stationed at station 19 at 550 west 43rd street, will be eliminated. It was not clear if it would be incorporated or replaced by something else. It sounded like it would just be taken away and not replaced.
5. Station 1, at 155th and Holmes, the home of pumper 1, would be closed, with the elimination of the pumper.
6. Change the crews of the technical rescues, stationed in 3 separate stations, would each be reduced from 4 to 3.
7. The crew of HazMat 71 would be reduced from 4 to 3.
There was a lot of other conversation with Chief Dyer concerning the operation of the fire department, including questions about saving money elsewhere, "auto aid" and "mutual aid", examination of the mission of the department, and some words about EMS. One interesting note about that--Chief Dyer said at least twice that his department did not seek out the merger with EMS--that it was mandated by the political action of the City Council. KCFD was placed in the position by the council of having to take up the mantle of EMS after the votes of the council. It is interesting to me that he felt it necessary to say that.
Retirements will be sought from the twenty longest tenured people (no mention if that included any EMS people)--no mention if these were early retirees--and the rest of any layoffs would be from the bottom up. It was noted by the chief that he took in all former MAST employees and have only replaced them as needed due to normal attrition with newly medically trained organic KCFD personnel.
I was just reviewing some things looking for reaction to the day's activities when I saw a reaction to the statement by the fire chief that this years budget was "adequate" to run the department at approximately $131 million (2011-12) but that it would need to go to $144 million (2012-13) to be adequate for this year. My guess is that the difference is inflation. I also think that ye olde EMS Division is costing more then was anticipated and given steady or normally growing revenues coming in, the FD would like more money. Instead, the revenues are going down, and the city is asking for costs to be cut. It would be interesting to see a pie chart of FD expenses; I suspect the majority are in salaries and benefits and this is why the city jumped on the chief to reduce the number of fire fighters.
That being said, Smokey is very committed to continuing the staffing of pumpers and ladders at four people. His commitment is to the point that suburban departments must sent four people per firefighting apparatus even if that is not their normal staffing in order to provide mutual aid for KCFD. When the council pressed him on comparing expenses of fire departments in comparable cities to KCFD, he seemed to interpret this as an attempted attack on 4 person staffing. Thus the quote of the day:
"I will not be here if we have three person pumpers; whoever my replacement is can get that information."
In other department's notes, the police chief appeared to be requesting more money for salaries, to the tune of about $10 million. Chief Forte also noted that the All Star Game will cost an additional %250,000 or so in PD OT. From the public services departments, the main thing that seemed to emerge was a proposal to eliminate the spring leaf and brush neighborhood pick up.
This City Council meeting appeared to only concern itself with just the operating budget and the council reiterated its commitment to a "structurally balanced budget" in the face of a revenue stream that continues to decline in the area of TIF disbursements, gaming taxes, and miscellaneous revenues. There was no discussion of the big dream ideas with regard to a downtown train, infrastructure work and there was no discussion of the pension issues that are still outstanding.
If you want to follow along with budget fun, the rough schedule for budget hearings and such is as follows: The budget itself will be introduced today, March 1. There will be opportunities for discussion March 7 and March 14. I don't think there will be opportunity for more public comment. The budget will need approval by March 22nd.