Hooray, yes, the city won a federal grant that will cover the salaries of firefighters for the next two years.
But, honestly, there’s not much to celebrate about.
City officials and firefighters are still far apart on reaching an agreement on contract concessions. Without concessions, the city will remain in a financial crisis for the next two years as well as after the grant, called SAFER, runs out.
So far, firefighters have not even agreed with what their union leaders agreed to in cuts.
That’s pretty disturbing, because if the firefighters are serious about saving their jobs, they need to come around, fast.
That’s because there is one catch about the grant, says Acting City Manager Kyle Tertzag: The grant only reimburses the city for salaries, meaning the city has to still have cash on hand to meet payroll.
And guess what? Tertzag is projecting cash on hand will disappear by January or February, and when the city can’t meet payroll, that could trigger state intervention.
If voters approve a new emergency manager law in the Nov. 6 election, that could mean the state could tear up existing contracts and impose deep cuts to employees.
It’s up to our firefighters to decide: Do they want to be in control of the concessions, or do they want a state-appointed emergency manager to make the decision?