Taylor postpones layoff of 15 firefighters
Taylor’s mayor said Friday the city will delay the layoffs of 15 firefighters until June 30.
Mayor Rick Sollars also said the union representing the city’s firefighters has agreed to a deal that would enable some fire department staff to take an early retirement and avoid being laid off.
Taylor’s City Council could vote to approve the deal during a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
“Up to 10 firefighters will have the option to walk away from their position whole and avoid the long-term ramifications of layoffs, while the financial repercussions to the city will be minimal,” Sollars said Friday in a statement. “This is not an ideal situation, but the city must find a safe and sustainable fire suppression plan.”
Because a federal grant that pays for 26 firefighter salaries is set to expire Monday, the city announced plans last month to lay off those firefighters.
Officials said without the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Safety Emergency Response grant, the cost of the 26 firefighters means a $2.5 million to $3 million hole in the department’s budget.
Last year, the city had a general fund of more than $28.7 million and its fire protection service accounted for more than $4 million. The city’s fiscal year ends June 30.
Sollars said the city will keep firefighters — including the 15 with postponed layoffs — while officials seek another SAFER grant. Under the current city budget and union contract, staffing is set at 21.
“We feel that with a reduced total number of firefighters and possibly a new two-year SAFER grant coming into play in the fall, we will be able to walk away from that grant in two years and fund the entire department through the general budget,” Sollars said. “No more layoffs or layoff threats every other year.”
The city will dip into its general fund to pay for the 15 firefighters until another grant is secured, the mayor said.
He also said the city, which exited a state-mandated deficit elimination plan last year, can pay for the staffing only for a limited time.