Mpls firefighter staffing would decrease, according to budget documents

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August 27, 2013
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

Mayor R.T. Rybak gave his budget speech two weeks ago, but that speech traditionally does not include many of the details of his proposals, and usually doesn’t include places where he is making cuts.

On Monday, those details were posted on the city’s budget website.

A few things immediately jump out.

While the Fire Department budget would increase by 7.6 percent ($4.1 million), the budget actually calls for five fewer firefighters in 2014. The mayor wants to spend $1.1 million on a firefighter cadet class, but according to the budget documents, that cadet class won’t increase the Fire Department’s staffing level due to attrition. The mayor has budgeted for 278 firefighters in 2014, down from 283 in 2013.

John Stiles, the mayor’s spokesman, said the mayor’s office and the Fire Department  do not intend to have the staffing level in 2014 fall below the 2013 level. He said he doesn’t know why the Finance Department put in those numbers and said they plan to revise the budget documents to reflect at least a flat firefighter staffing level.

Rybak is also proposing a 2.8 percent increase in utility fees for water, sanitary sewer, storm water and waste removal. The average home would see a $27 increase in annual fees, from $968 in 2013 to $995 in 2014. 

Here are some other highlights:

311

Rybak said he would expand 311 service to Saturdays in 2014. According to budget documents, this means he will increase funding to the 311 call service by $250,000 and hire three new employees.

Streetcars

The mayor wants to spend $1.4 million on the Nicollet Avenue streetcar line, including $1.25 million for preliminary engineering and $140,000 for an environmental impact study.

Fire Department

Rybak’s is proposing $1.1 million in one-time funding to hire and train cadets, plus another $250,000 for a pilot program to use SUVs for EMS runs. Overall, the Fire Department budget would increase by $4.1 million, from $54.3 million to $58.5 million.

Police Department

The Rybak budget would increase Police Department spending by $3.1 million, with $2 million going to new cadets and $800,000 for community service officers. Another $300,000 will go to “cultural and racial awareness training.”