Hoboken Fire Department Cuts

4/6/2009:

Judy Starts Cutting

City Hall is a twitter over the latest set of layoff notices sent out by State Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi. This time she’s hitting the Fire Department. Four Battalion Chiefs, six Fire Captains and two civilian clerks received the layoff notices, but it’s possible none of them will lose their jobs. The clerks may be the most in jeopardy, but the high ranking officers have “Bumping Rights” under state law that will force the City to re-hire them at a lower rank. It’s not really a “layoff” in the sense that there is no job loss expected. It’s more like a demotion in rank that will lead to a lower salary and lower pension.

The move is designed to lighten the load in the upper ranks without laying off new firefighters through a “Last in, Last out” policy that would hit the newest, youngest and lowest paid members of the department. The newest Hoboken firefighters were hired with grant money that would have to be returned if they are let go, and most agree the upper ranks should be right-sized before the lower ranks are thinned out in a town dominated by old brick and wood structures.

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But what about the operational audit?

This move by Tripodi seems more budget cut-driven than efficiency-oriented because a state audit of Public Safety operations has yet to be completed and presented to the city. Tripodi apparently made the moves without the final data. Others say the demotions will simply bring the Hoboken FD more in line with the Table of Organization in place during the Russo years before former fireman Dave Roberts was elected. Roberts bloated the ranks and allowed his brother firefighters raises in rank that led to big payouts and pensions.

What about the Police Department? Find out after the jump…

(HFD Layoffs, continued…)

Are Police Demotions next?

We are hearing the HPD will be next to get the Tripodi Treatment. The excesses of the LaBruno years were not limited to the SWAT team, and Tripodi may make similar moves to thin out the brass. Fourth ward Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer’s campaign put out a statement commending Tripodi for sending out the layoff notices and urging the fiscal monitor to implement furlough days as a way to make further reductions in payroll costs “while sharing the sacrifice city employees must make more broadly.” Zimmer says, “As we enter into union negotiations, reducing payroll costs across the board can minimize the need for future lay-offs.” Others say until true operational audits are done city wide it’s impossible to know where the city may be overstaffed or understaffed beyond the Public Safety Tables of Organization.

Scare Tactics ahead of the election

The word “Layoff” is being blasted across headlines to incite city workers ahead of the election. Councilman Peter Cammarano – who has been unable to break single digits in any poll gauging public support for his candidacy – is pointing the finger of blame at members of the council who refused to pass the underfunded/overspent budget in June of last year. Others blame Dave Roberts and his team (including Cammarano) for growing the budget from $52 million in 2001 to $123.8 million in 2009.

Who do you blame? Weigh in below in the comments section.

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68 Comments on "Hoboken Fire Department Cuts"

j.mayr
Member
j.mayr

I don’t get you newcomers – Hoboken is a heavily populated city which you may not believe lots of run down housing or should I say lots of housing that is not up to code. Put this together with the large majority of no brain still wantable college kids, who are now working in those high paying position but don’t have a clue about over loading sockets, heaters, smoking, cooking and yes some don’t realize your can’t have propane tanks in your apartment.Well four fire houses is probably to little to control the stupidity that goes on. The fireman have to deal with all this careless nonsence that goes which could result in lives lost. Keep saying lay off fireman, close fire houses and if one life is lost because you all felt the cuts needed to be made to compromise the safety of our community, would you still be able to go to bed at night with a clear head. Well then look who I’m taking too – you are the same people who look down on the homeless with disgrace. Always remember this could be you. I’m for saving the fireman jobs, not demotions and feeling safe – isn’t this what my tax dollars are for?

davidd
Member
davidd

[quote comment=”148286″]The notion of dollars saved per taxpayer is meaningless. A similar argument could be made for just about any cut or reduction in services. It will be the sum total of many reductions that will cut taxes or keep them from increasing further.

I don’t buy it.[/quote]

Absolutely agreed. Even though $35 a person may not seem impressive amount on the surface, I’m actually very impressed, since it represents ~1% potential decrease in our taxes. If we get similar cuts from the police and on insurance and don’t increase spending, it could mean a significant decrease in our taxes in real terms.

What do you think about closing a firehouse? Surely a mile-square city doesn’t need 4 fire houses? 201 Jefferson and 43 Madison are three blocks away from each other. Couldn’t the city see additional revenue by renting one out, or moving some other government office in? Or save by mothballing one?
Wonder what the audit would say?

hobokenj
Member
hobokenj

So is blohm looking to save the tax payers real money not just a pesky 35 dollars. Thats great… glad to hear it.

So he can keep all his fancy titles and raise the copays on all firemans healthcare to be in line with most other american working class as well as contribute 20% to their premiums like the rest of the american working class. Savings in the 7 figure area instead of the 254k, now we have a real savings…thanks blohm

estevens
Member

The notion of dollars saved per taxpayer is meaningless. A similar argument could be made for just about any cut or reduction in services. It will be the sum total of many reductions that will cut taxes or keep them from increasing further.

I don’t buy it.

davidd
Member
davidd

[quote comment=”148278″]Acting Fire Chief Richard Blohm on the proposed departmental changes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUrHYb77was%5B/quote%5D

Blohm’s savings numbers sound a bit more accurate in this interview. $62k through June 30th, $254k for a full fiscal year. Saving his example $35 a year.

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