Firefighters plan to oppose prop A

Austin firefighters plan to oppose Proposition A, a Nov. 2 poll proposal that would force the city of Austin to spend an additional $ 54 million to $ 119 million on police officers each year, according to the chief financial officer from Austin, Ed Van Eenoo.

Opponents note that the likely outcome of the new ODA spending would be job cuts in other city departments, including the Austin Fire Department. Members of the Austin Firefighters Association began voting on Tuesday on whether to take the unprecedented step of opposing the Austin Police Association’s position. Like APD, the fire department is financed from the general city fund.

Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks supports the campaign against the ballot. He told union members in an email cited by the American statesman Austin, “I don’t apologize for doing my duty, as rude as it is, but I’m not lying when I say I think Prop A will probably pass if we don’t get involved and I think Prop A will have a significant negative impact on your future wages, benefits and working conditions, and therefore your families.

While a vote against the proposal may spark resentment between leaders of the Austin Police Association and Nicks, if firefighters vote to oppose Proposal A, they will be aligned with the city’s civilian workers union, AFSCME.

Carol Guthrie, AFSCME Commercial Director, told the Austin Monitor Tuesday, “We strongly believe that if (Prop A) passes, there will be service cuts. There is no way around it. Of course, if you cut services, you cut jobs. We are doing everything we can to educate people on what it really does. “

“I had the opportunity to speak at the firefighters meeting,” she continued. “They think their positions are safe. They are not safe they are in the general fund. Their positions will be cut …. I don’t think there’s a way for the city to compensate, on the low side, $ 100 million, to fund this thing. The money is not there. She went on to say that the amount of money the city would be required to spend to provide two sworn officers per 1,000 residents, as well as to fulfill the other requirements of the proposed ordinance, would bankrupt the city.

Van Eenoo’s memo points out that how much the city should spend depends at least in part on population growth. If the city only grows 1% per year, the estimated cumulative cost over five years would be $ 271.5 million. But if the annual population growth is 2% and the city meets the other requirements, including uncommitted agent time, the cost over five years would be close to $ 600 million with an average annual cost of $ 119.8 million. of dollars.

The group that collected the signatures to put Prop A on the ballot is Save Austin Now. Their spokesperson Matt Mackowiak told the Austin Monitor by e-mail: “First responders are always stronger when they are together. The police personnel crisis directly affects our firefighters in terms of homeless fires and critical response times. This vote is the personal mission of the AFA leader. We don’t think he’s backed by most firefighters. Police do not oppose fire initiatives, and I hope AFA members take it firmly.

The firefighters’ vote will end on Thursday. Nicks said on Tuesday that no decision has yet been made on whether to release results on Thursday or Friday.

The Austin EMS Association is unlikely to take a stand on prop A. Selena Xie, the group’s president, told the Austin Monitor his union does not generally endorse or reject the proposals, adding that they opposed last year’s proposal to change Austin’s form of government to a “strong mayor” system.

Austin currently employs 1,612 police officers, 321 fewer than a year ago. Regardless of whether Proposition A passes or fails, APD will be in catch-up mode for a period of time. If voters approve of the measure, it will take time to hire and train these agents.

The city has forecast a deficit of $ 15 million over the next five years without the adoption of Proposal A. Regardless of whether the proposal is adopted or not, Council will have to take into account a rather precarious financial situation when deciding developing future budgets for libraries, parks and other amenities offered by the city.

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