“We would have to re-write the whole thing because they have sergeants and corporals, and we don’t,” he said. “And we would never do anything that would lead to layoffs. We would never give anybody’s job away.”
Feazelle maintains that while the overall department budget has risen over the past 10 years, the operating portion — mostly salaries — has not.
Besides salaries, the operating budget also includes overtime pay ($240,000 for 2012), and services and supplies ($279,751) such as fuel for trucks and maintenance.
“Our operating budget is about the same as it was almost 20 years ago,” Feazelle said. “Sure, health insurance has gone up, but it’s gone up for every department, not just ours.”
Budget numbers bear out Feazelle’s case: According to Open Book New York, the Fire Department’s operating budget was $2,654,150 in 1999 and $2,543,741 in 2011.
The 2012 operating budget was $2,950,074, according to figures from Marks. Feazelle said the 2012 budget grew by about $500,000 in retroactive pay that the department received when an arbitrator awarded raises for 2008 and 2009.
The department’s non-operating budget for 2012 was $2,389,230, which includes health care, retirement, payroll matching (FICA), workers’ compensation and disability coverage.
Feazelle said the city could solve some of the financial concerns by taking in more revenue.
He noted that the Fire Department loses about 500 ambulance calls per year to CVPH Medical Center because its ambulance is already tied up with calls when another comes in.
Feazelle said the city already has two ambulances that are not being used and enough personnel to run another rig.
The city could also make money by contracting for ambulance service with nearby towns or by doing non-emergency transports, he added.
“We have the people and the vehicles, so why not do it?”
But Kasprzak feels the city would have to hire more people to run another ambulance, and he said that will not happen.