4 months, 3 weeks ago by Bob Gough
New budget means City will consider brownouts, or rolling fire station closures
The 2014-2015 budget for the City of Quincy overwhelmingly passed the Quincy City Council on Monday night, but the contract with the Quincy Firefighters Local 63 suffered a narrow defeat.
After two weeks of budget hearing with minimal public questioning from aldermen, The Council passed Mayor Kyle Moore's first budget by a 13-1 vote. Alderman Dan Brink (R-6th Ward) was the lone no vote, citing a concern with spending down the reserves in the water and sewer funds down too low.
"I would rather see those monies saved in those funds and then saved for improvements in the water and wastewater plant instead of being spent on the sewers right now," Brink said. "Eventually, we're going to have to raise water and sewer rates."
The budget is $32.7 million. The budget is an increase of 3 percent, or just over $1 million, from last year's spending plan and includes the following increases:
A 12 percent increase in health insurance ($796,528).
A 10.37 percent increase in police pensions ($172,354) and a 7 percent increase in fire pensions ($160,457).
Garbage debt service costs for 2 trucks, software and totes ($97,000) and recycling debt service for 2 trucks ($82,300).
Salary increases in the budget call for zero percent increases for non-union personnel, one percent increase for Machinist Union employees and 2 percent increases for police and fire unions.
The $8.9 Fire Department budget increases by 1.5 percent and includes two retirements.
But the Fire Department budget now isn't enough to cover the current staffing level, according to Fire Chief Joe Henning.
That's because, before aldermen approved the budget, they defeated a contract that had been agreed to by the administration and Firefighters Union 63.
The contract was voted on again as it was defeated last week. There was confusion that it passed after Moore broke a 6-6 tie, but the City's code says such ordinances must have 8 votes. Aldermen Lexze Mann and Tony Sassen were not present for last week's vote and they both voted against the contract.
Brink said aldermen wanted a longer contract because of the uncertainty that is existing in Fire Department budgets including pensions and the possiblity of the state getting involved by implementing mandatory staffing levels on city's. Such legislation is currenlty being discussed in Springfield.
Henning said the budget, without the contract being done, now is about $107,000 short in his salary line item for necessary funding for full staffing all year. Moore said the Fire Department was looking at temporary, rolling closures of fire stations, also called brownouts Henning agreed with the mayor's assessment.
Henning said he hoped to get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible.