Sandusky firefighters talk about looming cuts

Matt Westerhold
Feb 19, 2014
Ryan Brotherton, vice president of the Sandusky Fire Department’s firefighters union, and Sandusky fire Lt. Adam Butler were our guests today on “Between the Lines Live” at the Sandusky Register building in downtown Sandusky.
 
 
The city is looking to balance its 2014 operating budget by making personnel cuts in the Fire Department later this year, a move the union opposes.
 
 
Any more manpower decreases in the department will put residents and firefighters at risk, Brotherton said.

The department already has adjusted to severe cuts previously, reducing response teams. “It would be negligent to allow any more cuts,” Brotherton said.

Brotherton and Butler took

 questions from the audience.

Watch the program in the player below
 

Comments

KURTje

This is the real world. We are broke.

donutshopguy

It would be great if everyone was employed, had well paying jobs and got raises every year. But, that is not real life. The gravy train of unlimited public jobs and wages is at an end.

It's time to tighten our preverbal belts and learn to live within our means. This upcoming decade will be ugly and difficult but if we continue to" kick the can down the road" there will be no road left.

DGMutley

Donut,

Well worth listening to this broadcast if you haven't had a chance. Our community can't afford to lose these firefighters.

gennycreamale

Looks like times are tough for sure! Can't the guys in the picture afford some decent clothes if they are discussing business and promoting their beliefs. I know it does not matter and they have good points as the last cuts should be safety. However I think the guys drive the point home a little better when they appear to mean business and portray professionalism.
If by contract they can't wear a uniform when doing this interview how about a polo the union springs for and a pair of khakis.

Stop It

Are you kidding me? They're firemen. Not James freaking Bond goin' out to dinner.

If your first thought is how they dress rather than the issue at hand, you are one step off the planet. One more and you'll be "out there".

Northstar

He is wearing his "BLUES" that paramedics wear(uniform pants), with all the extra pockets and a dress shirt..PLEASE! Who cares if no tie. They are probably going right back onto shift from here.

pavedparadise

Adjusting to the state of the economy, the private sector has made adjustments including reducing staff and wage cuts--- and that includes union represented industry. The public sector needs to make the same adjustments whether in this case going to a partial volunteer fire department, reducing wages, increased insurance copays or a combination thereof.

The same should go for the top brass at City Hall.

I find it both and hysterical and disappointing while the town hall meetings being hosted by City Commissioner Murray showcases doom and gloom cuts in the fire and police departments yet shortly after he pushes the need to relocate City Hall at a major cost. Where are the priorities?

Comrade Boose

if you ever saw the last contract which is a public document the firefighters are paying more into their health insurance. If you read todays paper positions have been cut from the fire department, higher ranking along with higher paid positions have been cut. As for partial volunteers when a city runs over 5,500 calls a year that would be hard to do along with the cost of the volunteers maintain their certifications. .25% income tax increase along with a 1-2%addmision tax increase. Want volunteers put them in the law department. Make landlords held accountable for their properties and their tenants.

pavedparadise

Posts on previous articles pertaining to the issue have shown evidence a partial volunteer fire department will not increase residential insurance among other concerns.

Also keep in mind the majority of the 5,500 calls were for EMS not fires. From the 2013 Fire Department Report--"Eighty-four percent of all emergency activity was ambulance activity". So, the volunteers firefighters would be called in for fires only with the fulltime firefighters/EMS to respond to ambulance calls.

The question is, with a historically high $4.2 million General Fund carryover balance in 2014, are the Safety Services personnel being used as pawns and scares tactics used on residents to increase the income tax to pay for pet projects--Murray "I don't care where we move City Hall. It needs to get off tis (current) property"

Comrade Boose

Here is the Great thing about Sandusky Fire Department they can do both fire and EMS, but that's not all they handle inspections,diving,education, rescues and much more. True on the second part of your post.

Whoopball

Unions may have their place in the private sector where market forces will counter their demands, but in the public sector there isn't a competitive environment. If your government services get too expensive you can't choose a different supplier. The only thing which tempers their demands are the politicians, who receive contributions from the same unions they are charged to control. We must then boot out the politicians who allow services to get too expensive. We are tapped out and any politicians who don't get that do not deserve election.

Gardenman

I would agree partially with some comments made so far that times are rough and everyone has to share the burden.

Lets not forget though the money that has been wasted by past and some current city commissioners. The flawed job searches that we had to pay for an ineffective and inexperienced city manager, the snub of Erie County to use some of their office facilities vs the expensive city hall complex facility, etc etc. The money that has been wasted can not be recovered and quite honestly these fireman had nothing to do with that level of waste by city leaders.

While we all want efficient fire departments and costs so associated with salaries keep low honestly that all might carry no value the next time we have an emergency be a fire or EMS and only half the needed manpower shows for they have another emergency to cover as well. At that point those who have commented above will have no concern about unions, or high wages, or everyone sharing the burden for the only thing that will matter to them is maximum manpower and equipment arrives at your home in the emergency.

The problem here is not the city fireman were paid too much in salary and benefits but rather the city commissioners spent too much for fraud, waste and abuse.

Steve P

The four fire positions were funded by a federal grant. When the grant was received did anyone look ahead to plan for what would happen when the grant expired? Ironic that the chief who pushed for the grant decides to retire. The unfortunate part is that four firemen will loose their jobs.

Babo

Safety forces need to get behind an increase in the Admissions Tax.

Bogtrotter

.

crazyrick

What happen to volunteer firemen ?

Comrade Boose

They are working and haven't time to respond on over 5,500 calls a year.

JERRY from SANDUSKY

When is everybody going to understand what's really going on in this town they are sucking the middle class dry the unions gave a lot it's time for upper management to give something and not no lousy $400. They are all well overpaid and damn well not worth the money we pay them. You want to make changes is this town? Protest protest protest until they understand that they need to go backwards in their wages just like everyone else did in this city. I also think we should look into the double dippers in our city.

Gardenman

I agree. Look at Ard she is pulling down $129,000 and that does not include PERS retirement and city kicks in another 13% there and then there health care benefits. Clearly this woman is not doing her job and but yet she keeps her salary. I am one for dropping this city manager down to $80,000 or less and if she does not like it...........WELL there is the door don't let it hit you on the way out. If you are not doing the job then you don't get paid like you are doing the job. That is not a hard concept to understand BUT why do our past and some current city commissioners have such a hard time understanding that?

I have a pretty good belief these four fireman being let go are doing their job but they lose their job and Ard keeps hers.....there is something wrong with that picture.

margaritaville88

ARD = Wasteful salary...

Safety Services= Priceless..

pavedparadise

The majority of the 5,439 calls were for EMS not fires. From the 2013 Fire Department Report--"Eighty-four percent of all emergency activity was ambulance activity". So, the volunteers firefighters would be called in for fires only with the fulltime firefighters/EMS to respond to ambulance calls.

The question is, with a historically high $4.2 million General Fund carryover balance in 2014, are the Safety Services personnel being used once again as pawns and scare being tactics used on residents to increase the income tax to pay for pet projects--Murray "I don't care where we move City Hall. It needs to get off this (current) property" at substantial cost.

Gardenman has a valid point. Past and present City Commissions have spent money like running water and failed to collect or have forgiven delinquent dollars owed the City.

Northstar

One way to say money and make sure they have resources for a fire/emergency is to cut out EMS runs, trust me the firemen would not mind. Contract those with an outside company for EMS transport like Findlay did and a bunch of other cities do. That way we are safe for them to respond to accidents and fire and other emergencies.

Outside providers would love the contracts (boost more jobs in Sandusky and cheaper) and the individuals who call in asking the firemen to read their lotto numbers will be billed. They have to bill them, but if you live in the city your taxes covers it, nobody ever pays those bills individually.

Ambulance transport companies can handle the EMS calls that are not connected to a fire directly. Why run a firetruck out there.

MJKSON44

Dear PUBLICSAFETY your opinions are biased and it is sickening that you can sit here and talk about safety issues when YOU ARE CURRENTLY ON DUTY DISPATCHING FOR YOUR PRIVATE EMS COMPANY You should be listening to radios and answering 911 calls not commenting on here. Your supervisors deserve to know that you are commenting on here while on duty and putting peoples lives in danger. You have no business discussing this while on duty no wonder you are pro private ems you work for a private ems company and again are currently on duty spending more time on the blogs than you are answering phones and radios. Sorry my friend but youre busted

Northstar

They do more than play on computers in that private EMS company than should be going on. Private EMS is being killed off anyways with Obamacare and the cut on payments to them.

pavedparadise

Jason

Murray's Town Hall Meetings highlighted tow issues--fire and police cuts and moving City Hall. Hopefully Safety Services and taxpayers will realize they are being played as pawns to increase taxes to pay for pet projects in a time Sandusky has a $4.2 million carryover balance

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

This was an interesting interview to watch and I was glad that I was able to catch it. Unfortunately the town hall I wanted to attend was closed due to weather but I'll still be there Monday and urge others to attend. No matter your thoughts on the budget, viewing or participating in local government (even the five minutes behind the podium) is vital for the sharing of ideas and to let your elected officials know you care enough to speak up.

Mr. Westerhold as for your next BTL since the topic of comment policy is rather hot within your readership perhaps that could be something to address? I wouldn't mind coming down to offer some options and discuss Internet culture. Beyond me you could probably find others from the comment section who may want to come on and offer their opinions (or at least have them submit it via...comments). You could also discuss the thoughts from the SR's side as well as how moderation is enforced.

IrishEyes

Good points presented by firefighters Butler and Brotherton in the BTL interview. I think cutting safety personnel should be a FINAL option, to be considered only after all other avenues have been explored. First should be raising the admissions tax. I'd also vote for a levy to fund fire and police operations LONG before giving any more money to the schools.

Mr. Murray has proposed one bad idea after another since taking office, and he's only been a Commissioner for a couple of months. I shudder to think what else he plans to shove down our throats during the remainder of his term.

Mr. D

Does The City of Sandusky charge for ambulance calls?
Most of the area fire depts., city, village, township ect charge resident or their insurance.

Northstar

If you live in the city or township, your taxes cover it. You do not pay the bill. The money they can sometimes get is from Medicare because a patient fell at a nursing home and is in need of transport to a hospital. Or out of town visitors. Insurance does not cover transport and does in most cases not apply to your deductible. Most have a discount, but you pay the majority of it.

Northstar

If you live in the city or township, your taxes cover it. You do not pay the bill. The money they can sometimes get is from Medicare because a patient fell at a nursing home and is in need of transport to a hospital. Or out of town visitors. Insurance does not cover transport and does in most cases not apply to your deductible. Most have a discount, but you pay the majority of it.

pavedparadise

@Northstar

Please check again. A family member of mine living in Sandusky was billed for an ambulance run at $300 plus. It may be that Perkins does not charge residents for ambulance runs. I Sandusky it doesn't seem to be the case.

deertracker

Correct!

Steve P

The unfortunate fact is that when the fire department applied for and received this grant they didn't get the approval of the city commission and had no idea if the position could be funded after the grant expired, which was the responsibility of the chief and whoever wrote and submitted the grant. At the same time the police department asked for approval from the city commission for a similar type grant and was told funding at the end of the grant could not be guaranteed, the police department did not apply for the grant because of that. The city will be on the hook for unemployment benefits resulting from the actions of those who submitted the grant without a guarantee of continued local funding.

DGMutley

Steve P,

The broadcast clears up any misunderstanding folks may have about the grant.

Also of interest about the grant is the following excerpt from the 2011 Fire Department Annual Report:

"The Sandusky Fire Department experienced many operational challenges in 2011. Faced with a diminishing tax base, significant reductions in the fire department operating budget forced lay offs and periodic closure of station 3. With the assistance of the IAFF Local 327 and grant funding, the fire department was able to re-establish staffing and reopen station 3. Firefighters Rudy Ruiz and Adam Butler worked diligently to secure a $1,000,000 SAFER grant to bring back laid off firefighters. Although this grant opportunity only exists for 24 months, it gives the fire department the opportunity to return to safer staffing levels and allows the City of Sandusky time to find alternative funding options for calendar year 2013."

In The Know

Steve P, City commission DID approve it. Ordinance 11-012 passed on February 14, 2011

ci.sandusky.oh.us/city-commission/documents/11.012.PDF

Steve P

In The Know, you are correct except, read the ordinance it was passed AFTER the grant was submitted and approved by the feds. Why wasn't the procedure used that the police department followed by seeking commission approval BEFORE submitting the grant with the local funding ramifications?

In The Know

I could be wrong, and I can't seem to find the supporting data for this, but I believe at one time I read where there was an agreement between the then commission and the fire department in the form of a verbal agreement to apply for the grant. The reason I believe it wasn't done formally was due to time restraints on applying for the grant itself. Again, I could be wrong, and I'll keep searching for it.

publicsafety

MJKSON44: Really? Last I checked my pay check comes from a Fire Department not a private EMS firm, so you must have me confused with another publicsafety. Sorry.

Comrade Boose

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

MJKSON44

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Northstar

Everyone has missed the point. They "cannot" cut these positions. We are already under staffed per guidelines for safety. They have worked around it with volunteer and mutual aid for now. But with these 4 gone they cannot meet the national safety standards even with their work around. They need to guarantee safety. If they want to cut the fire department they have to cut EMS out of it and contract it out. End of story.

donutshopguy

Northstar,

Is there a law that mandates a city to provide police and fire services to their constitutes ? How do you guarantee safety?

Comrade Boose

Simpleton, what do you think you pay taxes for.

donutshopguy

Comrade,

Please open your brain and think before commenting. Let me make this concept easier for you.

Is a city obligated to tax citizens to pay for fire and police? No. It is a service we have become accustom to receiving. The amount of service is dependent on what citizens which to support. If the grant is over than the jobs are over unless a levy was passed to cover the cost. Why is this so hard to understand

reader

It's hard for me to understand why there has been no discussion by the commission about raising the admission tax.

The admission tax could be put on the ballot and approved for 2015. The city could transfer funds from the fire equipment fund to keep these employees on the job and replenish the equipment fund next year with the new admission tax revenues.

Comrade Boose

Matt Westerhold KUDO's to you on getting this on BTL before Monday's meeting

BEHAPPY

I live in Sandusky (have all of my life)and I pay my taxes and I happen to appreciate EVERY one of our firefighters and police officers! And I expect them ALL to stay! We need each and EVERY one of them! For those of you who cry we are broke~well~lets take from the top for a change and keep the people that are NEEDED (maybe that's what YOU are afraid of?)! This has been going on for far too long~taking the people needed! As for the people here that feel the need to bash the way the firemen are dressed ~ you're kidding right? They are firemen and they were in their street clothes~so what! Any time you feel the need to bash these people~I welcome you at any time to pull up your big boy pants and go do what they do everyday for a living! Bet you couldn't make a mole on their~well~never mind :) Thank you gentlemen for all you do and you look GREAT!

Gardenman

I believe in Huron if you are a resident you are not charged but if you are not you will be billed (or your insurance) for the run.

my oh my

The city's population has declined along with businesses and industries closing so going back to past manpower numbers is not that bad of an idea actually.

Ralph J.

Sandusky is to blame for many of its financial problems. Sourcing out work to outside lawyers was money wasted. Why even bother to have a law directer? Another lost opportunity was not fighting for a casino which would be located in Sandusky instead of casinos in Toledo and Cleveland. Why should Sandusky pay for damage to the roads used by millions of tourists? Raise the admission tax to pay for fire and police protection and road maintenance. Sandusky will lose while they snooze as in the past. A state sales tax will be charged on admissions to amusement parks in the future.

http://www.cantonrep.com/x155125...

Babo

This is very important news. If the State starts adding sales tax to admissions of 5%, that money will go to the State and County not the City and make it more difficult to obtain 8% admissions tax.

Admissions Tax money all stays in the City to compensate for the use of City services and infrastructure. Cleveland charges 8% on stadium admissions. At $54.99 per ticket, Cedar Point tourists currently pay $1.65 Admissions tax. At 8% it would be $4.40 an increase of $2.75 or 5%.

So the choices for Sandusky residents are do nothing an let the State and County take the $2.75 per ticket or pass the Admissions Tax and keep it for the city use.

The article was also interesting because of the proposal to add sales tax to attorney billings. This is long overdue as law firms can be used as fronts to launder funds or hide income. With sales tax reports that will be more difficult to accomplish and the public will be able to determine how much tax money is flowing into private law firms through out sourced work.

Ralph J.

How much did that housing scandal and the Nuesse saga cost?

Dr. Information

Everyone is having to do the same with less.

Ned Mandingo

Welcome to the real world.

BEHAPPY

DR. and Ned must be in management~why don't we do more with less with YOUR jobs so you can see first hand what it REALLY feels like!!! It isn't easy and it isn't fun`but I would bet~YOU wouldn't know.

Dr. Information

This isn't about me, this is about tax payers and the fact that people are broke. Everyone expects the school systems to do the same or more with less, so why not other public entities?

Like I said, put a fire levy up to vote, see if the people actually think it warrants more money out of their pocket. Simple way to end this discussion.

Ned Mandingo

THAT IS A REALLY DUMB OBSERVATION HAPPY. I AM A UNION MEMBER NOT A MANAGER IN THE REAL WORLD. NOT A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE. I FEEL SOME GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES THINK THEY SHOULD BE EXEMPT FROM A POOR ECONOMY. THAT IS WHAT WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD MEENS. IF THEY ARE TRULY ONLY WORRIED ABOUT SAFTEY THEN VOLUNTEER LIKE 70% OF THE FIREMEN IN THIS COUNTRY.

DGMutley

Ned,

How does that work where you work? You have volunteers stepping up and working gratis so management can cut back on your brothers and sisters in the union? I'm sure. lol.

Response times mean nothing to you for fire or rescue? I don't believe you.

Comrade Boose

First of all did you listen to the BTL they are living in the real world and have been working with less. Their jobs are not high paying like some union jobs are. Their jobs are highly skilled. Things were given up in the past to save their union brothers jobs only to be lied to by the powers to be. Get off of this volunteer kick already they run to many calls for that. Actually SIMPLETON a lot of jobs in the city of Sandusky government were eliminated. And you wonder why your job at the plant was eliminated by robots, because you are a MAROON!!!

JFDoering

The staffing of public safety forces is one more example of why the line on Perkins Avenue that divides the City of Sandusky and Perkins Township should disappear. It's time to move past old, outdated practices and combine Sandusky and Perkins. Having all of the area as one government entity would bring in economies of scale plus more political influence in Columbus.

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

my oh my

Would Lt Butler be in his position if his father in law wasn't the former Fire Chief?

DGMutley

Thanks to Ryan Brotherton and Lt. Adam Butler for the “Between the Lines Live” interview.

Well worth listening to if you haven't had a chance to hear it. If you don't hear the sound just click on the speaker in the player.

Darkhorse

Plan B is the admission tax when the tax increase are vetoed.

donutshopguy

Comrade,

Calling people simpleton and moron because they don't prescribe to your thought process causes people to devalue your comments. Back up your comments with facts and independent thought.

The name calling makes you look like a bully and of less intelligence. It also sheds a bad light on your cause.