UFFA 273: Proposed New Rochelle 2013 Budget Would Chop Fire Department Staffing By 17 ¼ Percent Since 2008

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The City of New Rochelle is advocating further slashing its emergency responder protection, if the proposed 2013 city budget is not rectified. Under the proposal, the minimum on-duty firefighting contingent to protect the entire city would be reduced to 24 firefighters. In 2008 the minimum protection level to keep the city safe was 29 fire fighters per shift, meaning a 17 ¼ percent cut to public safety staffing minimums in less than five years.

These cuts would result in fire department brown-outs, eliminating one fire engine from service on a rotating basis in different parts of the city. This will lengthen response time and compromise the NRFD and its fire fighters’ ability to safely respond to emergencies.

The proposed cut was suggested in a report by a citizens advisory committee advising the city manager on how to relieve some of the city’s fiscal woes. The members of this committee have no public safety or government management experience.

“The fire department was already cut to the bone when minimum staffing was reduced to 27 fire fighters back in 2008,” said Byron Gray, who is both a 50 year resident of the city and president of the New Rochelle Uniformed Fire Fighters Association. “Reducing that number even further for a miniscule savings of one cent per resident per day is outrageous. If even one New Rochelle business is wiped out by a fire or one person dies because the city didn’t have enough manpower on duty to respond quickly to their particular emergency, the city would have rolled the dice and lost in order to save $300,000.”

“It is unfathomable that the city is unable to maintain manning levels that are already inadequate, unsafe and far below what experts have indicated is necessary to adequately protect New Rochelle,” said Peter Miley, Secretary Treasurer of the New Rochelle Uniformed Fire Fighters Association.

The 2013 budget proposes cutting back the fire department’s overtime budget by $300,000. Fire fighters point out the need for an overtime budget is a direct result of significant understaffing in the NRFD. Since 2008 the NRFD’s ranks have been decimated with a fifteen percent cut in the number of fire fighters, down from 168 to 143 with six cadets currently in training. Due to lack of hiring in recent years, 44 percent of the NRFD is currently eligible for retirement.

“The city is playing Russian roulette with the public’s safety to save only a penny per day, per resident. It’s mindboggling,” continued Fire Fighter Gray. “It’s ironic that the city is proposing to eliminate more first responders the week following our city being slammed by a Nor’easter and days earlier by Hurricane Sandy. Over that period, fire fighters responded to hundreds of emergencies from electrical fires and wires burning, to soaring levels of medical emergencies, people trapped in high-rise elevators in distress and toxic carbon monoxide scares from improper use of generators.”

The proposed $300,000 budget savings would be less than 1/5 of 1 percent of the city’s proposed overall $153.6 million dollar budget.

“The number one purpose of government is to always protect citizens and their property. Somewhere along the line our local government decided that protecting New Rochelle citizens and the fire fighters who put our lives on the line is almost 20 percent less important than it was to our city 5 years ago. Cut government bureaucracy and waste, before eliminating lifesaving services that directly contribute to the city’s livability.”

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QueenCity on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 21:19

I wonder how many cuts it is going to take before someone loses their life as a result of it.
The problem with New Rochelle is not Gnome Bramson, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him to be their mayor. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of a mayor like Gnome Bramson than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgement to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their mayor. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Gnome, who is a mere symptom of what ails New Rochelle.
Blaming the prince of fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. New Rochelle can survive a Gnome Bramson, who is, after all, merely a fool.
It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those that made him their mayor.

TakeBackNewRochelle on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 11:38

Why don’t they cut the dead weight in city hall, the people who walk around talking to their friends all day? Why do we need a full time Mayor and a city manager? Why make the taxpayers of New Rochelle suffer for miss management?

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 13:55

What would happen if the City Council was told their positions were unpaid and had no benefits?

Would they resign?

On the other hand, since they are paid and not volunteers we have a right to demand more from them.

Would the New Rochelle Board of Education function better if the board members were paid?

Andrew Newman on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 14:38
Title: City Council

Yes we all remember Barry "the puppet boy" Fertel screaming at the NRLWV candidate forum, last year, that the amount spent on healthcare and pension benefits for members of City Council was "inconsequential". Yet when first responders are asked to bear the brunt of budget cuts and the property owners of the City are asked to absorb a 7.0% tax hike someone needs to be accountable. If the members of City Council were leaders they would revoke Health and Pension benefits for themselves and for former members of Council. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen. In the case of the Democrat members of Council their primary reason for being on Council is to obtain these benefits. The tradeoff is doing what you are told. Democrat candidate selection in New Rochelle is not based on merit or ability but on loyalty. It is this process that has placed us in current fiscal situation we find ourselves in. It is this process that will have the City enter into a bad deal for moving the City yard. It is this process that will have the City enter into another poorly planned residential development which will further pressure the school system and New Rochelle taxpayers for many years to come.

willyrand on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 15:21

I always look at it like this: How many homes have 100% of their property tax go towards paying for City Council health benefits? Let's assume each member is costing $15,000. That's just ONE council member. Just think how much that'll cost in the future. Then think of all the former members receiving these benefits. For the majority of these members, the SOLE reason they run is for the benefits. They get the added perk of feeling really important to those in their communities. Some of these fools actually take the credit for restoring power and cable to their constituents - as if they climbed the poles and put themselves in danger. This crap has to stop. We need to forget about contracts and promises made........ Cut them for former, current, and future members. I wonder how many citizens actually know about this scam. Is there a way to research the former and current council benefit costs?

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Sat, 12/08/2012 - 15:41

File a freedom of information request with the City Clerk to go into Cuty Hall and review all files and folders pertaining to pay and benefits for current and former City Councik members for the past 6 years. If you want you can get copies at 25 cents per page or bring a digital camera and take photos of each page at no charge.

Bgiles@ci.new-rochelle.ny.us

Bennie has 5 days to confirm in writing that he received your email. Invariably he fails to do this. He has 22 days together you records or give you access.

To speed things up, on the sixth day of your initial request file an appeal to Chuck Strome on the grounds that Bennie's failure to respond to your FOIL request constitutes a "constructive denial" of your request. Chuck has 10 days to give you records or access or deny your request.

Cstrome@ci.new-rochelle.ny.us

If you do the math, you can see that the best thing for you is that Bennie fails to respond in 5 days to confirm receipt of your request.

Bennie alone takes 5 + 22 = 27 days.
Bennie then Chuck 5 + 10 = 15 days

So basically, it is about 2 weeks quicker ti file that appeal on day 6.

If you or anyone needs further guidance on FOIL contact me.

Andrew Newman on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 16:15

You can call Barry at (914) 740-4346 or email him at bfertel@newrochelleny.com and he can explain to you how the city is spending a meaningless amount of money on these benefits. You can ask him to provide you with the data on how much these benefits cost for current and former members of council. Barry now gets his benefits forever!!! I would not expect Barry to be helpful in providing this data remember he would be providing you this data on a pro bono basis.

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