During budget hearing, fire union president says contract talks with city have been revived - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:41 am
During budget hearing, fire union president says contract talks with city have been revived

Omaha fire union officials and Mayor Jean Stothert's office have revived talks over terms of the city's fire contract, the union president said Tuesday.

It's not clear what those talks entailed.

But as expected, union President Steve LeClair spoke up to oppose the Fire Department's proposed $90.6 million budget during a public hearing on the city budget before the City Council.

LeClair said the fire contract costs more than what Stothert is proposing to spend.

The union, Fire Department officials and Stothert have long argued over her fire budget, which could force layoffs, result in demotions and pull firetrucks and ambulances from service.

Fire Chief Mike McDonnell wants a roughly $94 million budget for his agency, a figure he said was necessary to avoid cuts.

“The prospect of laying off firefighters, closing stations, shutting down apparatus, should scare the hell out of us,” LeClair said.

“It's not a situation that I think anybody wants to find themselves in. And I think that for the sake of the citizens that we serve as firefighters — and for the sake of the firefighters, the men and women that I represent — I believe that we need to maintain an open dialogue.”

LeClair's brief comments were the only hint of fireworks at a budget hearing that was a quick, orderly affair.

Roughly 30 speakers delivered 90 minutes of testimony partly devoted to public safety concerns such as the Fire Department budget and oversight of the Police Department.

Stothert's supporters praised the budget.

“This budget restores fiscal sanity to the City of Omaha, lean but not mean,” said Doug Kagan of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom.

The fire budget is still one of the largest issues on the city government's plate, as council members finalize their own budget requests prior to an Aug. 27 vote on the city's spending plan.

McDonnell urged council members last week to help renegotiate the terms of the union contract in order to avoid cuts.

The union and Mayor's Office engaged in some early discussions to resolve the dispute.

But McDonnell said those talks stopped after the union filed a lawsuit following an executive order from Stothert that it was the city's “goal'' to comply with national firefighting guidelines.

Members of Stothert's office were present at the budget hearing Tuesday, but they did not address the council.

LeClair, however, said he had held conversations with Stothert and the city's lead labor negotiator on Tuesday.

“I believe, after those lengthy discussions, that there are some alternatives, that there are some options,” he said, adding they could include cost savings within the department's operations or an increase in the suggested budget.

Driver seriously injured in crash into semi
Regency neighbors without power for 2 1/2 hours Sunday night
Firefighters put out industrial oven fire
78th Street to close to through traffic
Primary battle between Battiato, Morrissey may be only race
UNMC appoints new dean for the college of dentistry
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Metro transit recommends streetcar, rapid-transit bus line for Omaha
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
After decades looking in, Republican Dan Frei seeks chance to take action
Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn try to pin label of D.C. insider on each other
Curious about government salaries? Look no further
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
Omaha police investigate two nonfatal shootings
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »