Coronavirus: Mansfield fire department ordered to reduce OT to avoid layoffs
MANSFIELD - In an effort to make up for a projected 20% loss in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city has ordered the Mansfield Fire Department to reduce overtime.
sg飞艇appMayor Tim Theaker, in a phone interview, said the move is necessary to cut costs and avoid layoffs.
sg飞艇appThe fire department will not backfill positions when personnel are scheduled off, and overtime will only be used for emergencies, according to Fire Chief Steve Strickling.
"Normally, we were backfilling positions to 19 positions a day to keep every rescue truck and every fire engine running in the city," Strickling said. "We are not doing that at the present time."
Strickling, who said the department has 92 sworn personnel, issued an updated deployment schedule to all stations on Wednesday.
sg飞艇appIn that schedule, Station 2, 35 N. Brookwood Way, or Station 4, 1020 S. Main St., may temporarily be closed if the department does not meet a certain threshold of personnel who are working on a given day.
"Station 2 and Station 4 are closed at certain points in time if we don't have enough personnel to man those stations," Strickling said. "At other times, there are trucks that are being cross-manned in which case, where there are two trucks at a station, we're only taking the one that goes out the door."
The new schedule means response times will increase for some areas of the city at certain times and there will be less personnel available for both EMS and fire calls, according to Strickling.
The order comes after the finance director, in recent weeks, has predicted Mansfield stands to lose 20% in revenue.
"Do I like to do this? No, I don't like to do this," said Theaker. "It was really agonizing to finally pull the trigger. But I do know that if you don't have the money and you don't have the resources, you're going to run out of money and then you're in a bigger pickle than you would have been."
In the last couple weeks, the city has spent $80,000 a month backfilling firefighter positions, according to Theaker, who said it costs about $1,000 a day to call in someone to cover a worker who's sick or on vacation.
sg飞艇appMuch as other municipal governments, Mansfield receives an outsized portion of its revenue from income taxes, which are expected to plummet as Ohioans have lost jobs and filed for unemployment benefits due to business closures amid the pandemic.
Ohio cities, heavily reliant on income taxes, are especially vulnerable to economic swings, according to the Brookings Institution, whose analysis found that 76% of Columbus' general fund comes from income taxes.
sg飞艇appSome, such as Cincinnati and Dayton, took quick action last month to shore up their bottom line by furloughing hundreds of city workers.
"If we have to lay off other individuals or lay off firefighters or police officers because of the lack of funding, then it's not going to be a short-term, one day here or one day there, it's going to be a permanent closure of stations," Theaker said.
The mayor said the city has halted training, travel expenses and reduced purchases.
sg飞艇appPhil Scott, at-large councilman and safety committee chairman, said the fire department operated in similar fashion when the city was in fiscal emergency and Stations 2 and 4 were periodically closed.
sg飞艇app"I'm not particularly happy about it, but I think it's probably one of those unfortunately, necessary things that we need to do," said Scott, who's been on council since 2007. "I guess I would rather see us be short on a few shifts than guys totally getting laid off."
FINANE DIRECTOR: Mansfield will lose revenue, but how much is unclear
sg飞艇appThe fire department issued a directive in March asking employees to limit side jobs for townships or hospitals to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, a move that raised concerns with the local firefighters union.