The Feb. 10 Columbian online story reported: “Overtime puts squeeze on local cities’ budgets: Firefighters, police officers earn lion’s share of extra hours.” When firefighters or police officers respond to a call, they put our lives, needs, and safety ahead of all else, including themselves, and their own families.
According to Editor Lou Brancaccio’s online comments, “you can have great respect for firefighters (I do) yet still question if the money they get is out of control.” Exactly what is a life or one’s safety worth, and when the budgeted money is gone, what is a city to do, close the stations until new money comes in? The budgets keep getting smaller and smaller, so layoffs keep coming, but emergency calls don’t decrease, so what is the city to do? Approve overtime.
Fire departments are trying to do what they can to save money for the city by downsizing vehicles, and readjusting staff levels to specific busy times, etc. Maybe this is a lesson learned: Layoffs may look good on paper, but cost more in the end.