Despite problems, new KC fire contract well-oiled for passage
The Kansas City Star
The KC City Council will be approving the new three-year contract with Local 42 next week.
That’s despite a few problems in the contract, as a Star editorial noted today. The biggest: It ties the hands of Mayor Sly James, the council and the city staff in getting any more reductions from the Fire Department beyond the 33 jobs (or 2.5 percent of the force) that’s agreed to in the proposed contract.
The pact also does not include any way that I can find for the city to find other cost savings in the department if the current methods - getting rid of 33 positions and changing overtime work rules to save $3.5 million - do not work as expected.
At a hearing Wednesday, finance chairwoman Jan Marcason spoke for most of the council when she said she thought the agreement was the best one that could be worked out.
In a way, that’s true.
James pressed hard for $7.6 million in permanent annual cuts in the Fire Department budget, and seems well on his way to getting his way. The unprecedented cut in staffing was a good thing to see on behalf of taxpayers.
As fire union leader Mike Cambiano pointed out, the city still needs to do a staffing study to see how fire and ambulance squads can be best positioned to provide the best care in the future.
The city should do that, but also has to be on the lookout for any attempt to super-size the agency once again.