St. Louis Fire Department
5:15 pm
Tue March 15, 2011

City of St. Louis to lay off 30 firefighters

The St. Louis firefighters union lashed out at city hall today after the mayor announced the layoffs of 30 firefighters.

The mayor's office claims that firefighter pension payments are doubling to nearly $11 million in just two years and risk bankrupting city government.

Chris Molitor is the President of Firefighters Local 73.  Among other things, he accused the mayor of refusing to negotiate in good faith.

"When I woke up this morning, I had to see if I was living in Wisconsin or St. Louis, Missouri…this is wrong," Molitor said.

Molitor says the union has put forth a plan that would save the city $7 million next year.

The mayor's Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford said the cuts were necessary to avoid layoffs in the police department.

Rainford says the city owes $10.7 million for fire fighter pensions over the next two years, money he says St. Louis just doesn't have.

Moreover, he says claims by the firefighters union about a proposal to save $7 million only shift costs to a later date.

"It basically does reduce the cost increases;" Rainford said, "It does not reduce the cost, but it does reduce the cost increases in the early years and then they increase dramatically in the later years.  And it's the same kind of accounting trick that they've used in Illinois, Wisconsin, Nevada, and the federal government."

Rainford says the city will also cut 24 more firefighter positions through attrition.