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City sends layoff notices to firefighters

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz late today announced that, because of unresolved contract talks with the city’s fire union, he’s issued layoff notices effective July 31 to three Evanston firefighters.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz late today announced that, because of unresolved contract talks with the city’s fire union, he’s issued layoff notices effective July 31 to three Evanston firefighters.

Bobkiewicz says that the city has reached new contract agreements with the police union and with AFSCME, which represents most non-public safety employees. Both those pacts fall within the spending levels anticipated in the budget. But despite some progress earlier in the spring, the firefighter’s contract remains unresolved and the dispute has just gone to arbitration.

He says it’s unclear how long the arbitration process may take and that an arbitration award could cost the city more than it has budgeted for fire services.

Bobkiewicz says he’s not willing to cut staffing in other departments or further reduce reserves to fund possible pay hikes for firefighters beyond those agreed to by other employee groups.

The city manager says eliminating the three positions will effectively reduce daily firefighter staffing by one position, from 26 to 25, and that Interim Fire Chief Greg Klaiber has developed alternate deployment plans to minimize the impact of the cuts.

The City Council will hold a special meeting Monday to discuss the city’s progress in staying on track with its budget for the fiscal year that began March 1.

Bobkiewicz says that so far the city’s budget projections appear to be on target, but he anticipates that, when the state sorts out its budget, those decisions are likely to have an adverse impact on revenue distributed by the state to the city.

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