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Posted on Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 7:10 a.m.

Ann Arbor officials say firefighters' unwillingness to negotiate partly to blame for layoffs

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor City Administrator Roger Fraser says the decision to lay off 14 firefighters isn't easy, but places some blame on a lack of cooperation from the firefighters union at the bargaining table.

After months of unsuccessful negotiations with Local 693, Fraser's frustration was apparent at Saturday's City Council retreat. Raising his voice several times, Fraser spoke bluntly and criticized the union's leadership for refusing to realize the need for change in light of the current financial crisis facing the city.


City Administrator Roger Fraser discusses the city's budget problems and the plan to lay off 14 firefighters at Saturday's City Council retreat.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Fraser said there's no way the city can cut its budget by 30 percent over three years without making adjustments to police and fire services. Those services account for half the city's budget.

Responding to hesitation from some council members about his plan to immediately lay off 14 firefighters, Fraser told them they're naive if they think they can drive change at the bargaining table while putting off tough decisions about public safety.

"I'm trying to be plain with you about the consequences," Fraser said. "If you're going to continue to say let's postpone this cut and see if we can't figure out something, then you've lent credence to (the firefighters' belief) that you will bail them out."

Mayor John Hieftje agreed it would be nice to have cooperation from the firefighters union, which for months has refused to make any concessions in wages and benefits to avoid layoffs.

"The union, as I understand it, wasn't willing to give up any wages to save jobs," Hieftje said. "That conversation has been had with the fire department and union, and the answer wasn't positive."

Hieftje noted Washtenaw County leaders were able to get county labor unions to reopen contracts this year and give up promised raises that saved the county nearly $7 million and avoided mass layoffs. He said he wishes the city's unions would agree to across-the-board wage cuts to avoid mass cuts to city services.

Firefighters union president Matt Schroeder said the fire department would prefer - instead of layoffs - to go the route of buyouts, like those offered to the police department earlier this year. But he said that hasn't been on the table in negotiations.

Schroeder said the city hasn't been open to any of the union's other ideas for avoiding layoffs. For instance, he said, firefighters are licensed as emergency medical technicians and could generate revenue by billing for health transportation services.

"We've really done our homework and attempted to come up with some ways to solve the problem with the city, but they're not open to any of those ideas that we've proposed," Schroeder said. "We've been met with some real resistance."

Ann Arbor officials are working to confront a $3.3 million deficit in the current fiscal year and now must cut another $5.4 million from next year's budget over and above what was previously planned. City leaders will spend the next several months identifying which services to maintain going into the next fiscal year.

Nearly $400,000 in the mid-year cuts proposed by Fraser will come from having 14 fewer firefighters on the payroll through June. Fraser is planning to send out pink slips this week, officially giving 30-day notice to those who will lose their jobs.


A total of 14 jobs are on the chopping block at the Ann Arbor Fire Department.

Melanie Maxwell |

Fraser said it's his intent to work over the next 30 days to find an alternative to the layoffs. But in the absence of any major breakthroughs, the 14 jobs will go, he said.

Several members of the firefighters union sat quietly on the sidelines Saturday as Fraser spoke. Bryce McAllister, one of the 14 firefighters whose jobs are on the line, said he left another department to come work for Ann Arbor about four years ago because he thought it would be a more stable job.

Now he's worried about how he'll provide for his wife and two children after January. But he's also concerned for the community.

"Hopefully between the city and the union we'll get something worked out," McAllister said. "It's not about my job or the 13 other guys who would get laid off. It's about the fire department providing a service to the citizens."

Schroeder brought a 21-page report to Saturday's meeting, outlining the union's analysis on the potential impact of further staff reductions in the fire department.

In the late 1990s, the fire department had 115 firefighters, six stations, four staffed engines, three ladders and a rescue squad. By 2002, that declined to 92 firefighters, five stations, four staffed engines (one combined rescue) and two ladders.

The elimination of 14 more firefighters could mean further reductions in the number of trucks and stations, according to the union.

The union's report compares Ann Arbor's fire department to other fire departments in Big 10 college towns, showing fire services in Ann Arbor are already lacking.

The National Fire Protection Agency recommends a rate of one firefighter per 1,000 people. Ann Arbor currently has 0.8 firefighters per 1,000 people, and that would drop to 0.68 with 14 fewer on the job.

According to the union's analysis, Ann Arbor already ranks the lowest of 10 fire departments in the report in terms of staffing levels. The national average is 1.74 firefighters per 1,000 people.


Matt Schroeder, left, president of the city firefighters union, and Shane Doyon, one of 14 firefighters on the chopping block, listen to Roger Fraser talk about the need to trim the city's budget.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Minus another fire station, Ann Arbor also would be almost five times below the national average in the number of stations per population - and lower than all other cities compared in the report. Ann Arbor's current number of fire engines per population also is the lowest in the union's report.

Schroeder said national standards suggest a fire department should be able to respond to a fire within four minutes and have a full alarm assignment within eight minutes. He said the department already is below that benchmark, and the loss of 14 firefighters will put Ann Arbor residents at further risk.

Police Chief Barnett Jones, the city's safety services administrator, said city officials are working on a plan for how to manage fire services with 14 fewer firefighters.

"The reality is - with layoffs - there would be a definite change in how we do fire service delivery in our community," he said. "But the response times shouldn't change that drastically."

Fraser said the leading plan is to take one truck company out of service, which would mean one less vehicle in a fleet of many when responding to a fire. He said that could mean more property damage during fires, but it wouldn't put firefighters at risk.

The fire department handled 5,981 dispatched calls last year, 250 of which were fire-related. The bulk of the rest were emergency medical calls, city records show.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 11:25 a.m.

Ryan it would be nice to have a follow up story. Rumor has it the firefighters did not lose their jobs based on pay cuts the department took. It is time that the firefighters stop being the bad guys in all of this. They do a job, earn a living like the rest of the public.


Fri, Dec 11, 2009 : 2:38 p.m.

Hi Craig - we moved into your old townhouse at the coop years ago. My husband, became an AA firfighter 3 years ago, after working almost 10 years at another department. I'm surprised AA hired him with what we now see were clearly financial problems back then. Or maybe it was the Berlin plan that set that ball in motion... In any case, my husband would have been better off staying where he had been in the face of these lay offs. My husband and I were both born in Ann Arbor and have been here our whole lives. We are also taxpayers in Ann Arbor. So we actually can see both sides. What is so odd is to hear people comment on how much money firefighters make. I've seen this happen with auto workers and even welfare moms. It amazes me how easily the general public is led into pointing fingers and condemning people who are basically their peers, for making a living wage, or having enough money just to care for their families. I've seen this happen over and over again. While the administrators, CEOs, and politicians(some) enjoy lavish salaries and perks, we are all led into somehow pointing fingers at eachother for just making enough to live on. It cost money to live. Food cost money, housing cost money, health care cost money. $50 or $60 thousand a year is actually NOT a lot of money for a family to live on. For a single guy, it is not bad, but for a family, it is tough. This is why firefighters work 2 and 3 jobs and often have very little time to see their families. Not because they have leisure time, and just love working around the clock. But to try to make that extra bit that makes the difference between just having the necessities and maybe having something more - like a house. We managed to fit our family of 6 into that 850 sq' townhouse that you gave up, Craig, due to our budget. We've never had cable (or satelite) (and now with HDTV even a working television!), air conditioning or a dishwasher. I shop almost entirely resale. Our big vacation is a camping trip to Lake Michigan. I imagine our lifestyle is not that different from yours - as from as far as I know you are also a hard working contractor. We are blessed with having what we need. We are further fortunate to have the extra benefits the Fire Department provides. The benefits are great. And greatly appreciated. Like public education, they are a positive for everyone as a whole. They keep our community healthy. And, those that have them (like the firefighters), do not have to depend upon public assistance to obtain them. One special needs child left untreated can cost the taxpayers far more money in school support, in legal, court and jail costs,in community safety and well-being. These kinds of health and retirement benefits benefit our community as a whole. Instead of begrudging workers who receive these kinds of benefits, for getting them, it would seem more intelligent to promote the ability of everyone to be able to obtain them. But, that being what it is, these are difficult economic times (not caused by the working class who are now scrapping over what is left in the fallout) and choices do have to be made. Even though really? is justifiably angry about the situation I appreciate him bringing some things to light: The Fire Department has been absolutely willing to negotiate and work on ways to save money. They have offered realistic possible solutions and, in exchange for some safeguards, have been willing to make concessions. Fraser has his own job to do, and while it is frustrating to hear him feed mis-truths to the public and city council to push his hardball agenda - that is his job. Or at least his way of doing a job that has to be done. Let's hope that it results in a reasonable outcome that continues to keep the people in Ann Arbor as safe and secure as is possible.


Thu, Dec 10, 2009 : 2:08 p.m.

@Ignatz, would that include our Mayor and Mr. Fraser? Does anyone have a handle on how much in property taxes the University does NOT pay?


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 3:12 p.m.

A better, more cost saving solution would be to privatize the fire department. There are many cities in the U.S. that have private fire departments that function very well for less money. Making over $100,000 plus benefits is excessive, especially when you look at all the thousands of firefighters throughout the country who risk their lives on a completely voluntary basis.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 6:43 a.m.

Red Dog...there is a link to salaries earlier in the blog. Firefighters in A2 make $60-70,000 WITHOUT overtime. The cost is over $100,000 with benefits, again WITHOUT overtime. AAtaxpayer I read the whole arbitration. The Union one 1 issue and the City won the other 5 or 6. 312 isn't perfect and needs some reform. But it was put in place as an alternative to striking. If you want the Unions to have teh ability to blackmail...let Police or Fire strike! Lets fix 312 but not forget the alternative! lastly I agree with the blogger who pointed out that if AAFD needs to respond to ambulance runs(and I am skeptical)couldnt we find something smaller and more efficient than a fire truck. If a couple of FF go in a Tahoe another could stay with the firetruck. If a fire occurs during the other run they could meet at the scene.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 2:09 a.m.

Folks its not a matter how much a firefighter makes. It's no secret that depending on the area it is between 31,000-50,000 a year. Plus benefits. How much more can Ann Arbor do to destroy this great department? They already closed station 2 and put a ladder out of service. Now they want to cut 14 more positions? What they fail to realize is you need at least 3 firefighters per engine, 4-5 for a ladder and at least 2 for the rescue. If you cut 14 positions you will not have that. There are other area's to cut before you even think about cutting Police and Fire. These two are a requirement for any city. I think the cuts need to start at the top. How about you Mr.Administrator...willing to take a cut? Willing to give up any of your staff to where you will actually have to do some work on your own? After all you did win the election to do that job right? Stop picking on the Police and Fire departments. There are other choices.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:31 p.m.

For those that are uninformed I will do Mr. Stanton's job and tell you that the FD responds with HVA to assist them. The FD usually will get there first and can start life saving procedures. Once the ambulance is onscene and primary medical care is turned over the FD assists in loading the patient. This would include carrying large patients up and down stairways which is quite often the case. Things such as CPR can be done by a firefigher while the HVA paramedics do things such as administor drugs and secure an adequte breathing airway. There is also backboarding and other procedures that take more then 2 paramedics. Firefighters also can drive the HVA ambulance to the hospital so both paramedics can be in the back giving medical care on critical patients. I will not tell you that they are needed on all 5700 calls they go on. But I would bet its over half. If HVA had to provide the staff to make up for the loss of that kind of response I would also bet that it would bancrupt them or they would have to double their fees. And lets talk about what is going to happen to those 250 fire calls per year. How many of those are going to be front page "barn burners" next year? Quick intervention will not be as easily attained when you take away 20% of your staff. They say that the incident on Waverly was a fluke because the firefighers got lost. I think it might have to do with the fact they closed the closest fire station. Or maybe they gave all the fire dispatching duties to the police without proper staff or training and the directions were not properly relayed. I also think its bad buisness to hire 14 people and have them quit other jobs to come work just to turn around and eliminate their job. Its my understanding that most of these people have around 2 years on the job. Its pure mismanagement if Fraser didn't see this coming enough to hold off on hiring new people.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:49 p.m.

How old do you want your firefighter to be? Most firefighters get their training at a normal college age and work for the next 25 years before retiring. This seems like a very physical job that is most appropriate for a younger person. Maybe we could put some fire hose on the recycling trucks and some breathing packs in the trunks of all of those city cars that sit parked. I wouldn't want the council or the admin to have gear though... they have proven they can't be trusted in a pinch. For the safety of my mother and her friends and neighbors I will forever be indebted to those who serve and have served the AAFD!


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:04 p.m.

So now we're slamming the FD for what some cops got. Did you all miss the part about this NOT being ordered to FD. Wake up people.

The Picker

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:03 p.m.

With only 250 fire calls maybe its time to refocus the purpose for this dept. Doesn't Huron Valley Ambulance supply this same service? It would be interesting to see what the numbers are on the other 5700+ calls

The Picker

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9 p.m.

With only 250 fire calls maybe its time to refocus the purpose for this dept. Doesn't Huron Valley Ambulance supply this same service? It would be interesting to see what the numbers are on the other 5700+ calls


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 7:18 p.m.

OK yall, lets clear up some of the ranting factiods that are mostly rumor. The average ff makes about 20-24 $ an hour. Because of the 24 hour days, they are paid about 3000 hours a year. This comes out to approx. 70k a year. Does this mean that every waking hour there is an emergency? No. Do you ask for a reduction in your auto premium each year because you didn't use it? No. The fire dept is an insurance policy. Its the best way to try and save lives and property in the worst situations. How much is one person's life worth? I can't answer that, but if you ask me would I be willing to pay $300 per year for the best chance that my child has of being alive,I would personally say yes. Any additional monies paid is the result of years of cities choosing to pay overtime instead of replacing retirees. This has been a choice for decades and is of course brought up any time there is a financial crisis or the media decides its time to "expose" something. If someone is told that the only way to staff a understaffed dept is by working more hours, and then you're vilified when you work those extra 400-700 extra hours, that is just not being fair about the system and how it was put in place. There are no 40 something retirees making 70k, sorry to say, there are however the few who step up to work those extra hours and miss countless hours of their children growing up to protect YOUR children with their lives. Do not think that this doesn't happen. So when the few receive an earned retirement at 50 or 55 they make a few more dollars than most and get to use that until they die 10 years earlier than normal. next, The collective bargaining system isn't perfect. It doesn't favor one side over the other. The most recent study of arbitration findings are that most issues result in a 50/50 split. That is one side or the others "best last offer" is chosen. There is no option for the arbitrator to come up with an "in between" on monetary issues. This is the only avenue for public safety to decide deadlocks. They can't strike and without some sort of resolution process, the municipalities can do whatever they want, whenever they want. next, The benefits for public safety is similar to what many currently have. Most chose or have chosen for them, an HMO or PPO and share in the costs to some degree, a 10/20 drug plan with some kind of deductable to be met for procedures. This can last into retirement until they are eligible for medicare. next, Why is it that for 50 years the ONLY service that has consistantly worked with each other for help when needed(insert fire dept here)are the ones that suffer the threat of consolidation. Do the politicians ever talk of one governing body with reductions in their staff? No. Ever here of combining police depts or garbage pickup or snow removal or parks or (insert dept here)? No. Consolidation doesn't increase staffing. Its too late when the building is already down. Heck I could have a 2 man dept if all you want is to spray the remaining embers. All consolidation does is to lock in the ability of municipalities to cut current staffing and then add the neighbors dept to theirs and trumpet their "out of the box" thinking and tax savings.When the politicians put up or shut up about taking one for the team,and start to lead, then maybe people will be ready to follow.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 6:05 p.m.

The city of A2 should go into bankrupcy and thus force all union contracts to be renegotiated. Get rid of the union's, they are of no use to anyone except themselves. I am sick and tired of being held captive by them. Union's aren't even good to their own members. Heaven forbid if you are the lowest on the totem pole. Rather than take pay cuts or benefit cuts, they will sacrifice the 14 lowest in seniority on the fire department. If they don't or won't even take care of their own, do you think they give a care at all about the taxpayer's and those who pay their wages?


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 5:33 p.m.

We all took a 10% wage cut where I work. That's what we do if we don't want to lose our jobs.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 5:15 p.m.

Wrong really?, I do not work for the city. I am however a long term resident that pays taxes and is very happy living in A2. The FD is not the only messed up line item in the budget but for you to continually slam just about every aspect of city just shows how biased you are. You will probably be first in line for the windfall retirement package that the city rolls over on. Might be worth it just to get rid of you and your attitude.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 4:52 p.m.

Oh, so when HR came the the fire stations and told us all that the $5 Millon EXTRA money that was used to spruce up the existing structure came from the budget overages from the work. comp. fund, that's an acceptable way to spend money when the city faces layoffs. Does the Kool-Aid flow from all the drinking fountains over there in city hall, or just the one outside your office? Let's see, if any of us 'stupid' people as you call us had to live on a budget... oh yeah, we do! Then we first focus on the CORE expenses, then go from there. Ann Arbor does things a little backwards than that, but you call the rest of us stupid. Ok, guess when you reach a certain level of common sense, you're branded stupid. You and A2roots must share the same cubicle.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 4:36 p.m.

Not stupid but I don't think many understand the funding very well. The parking structure - that is paid for with $ from parking fees, most of it will come from the new structure itself, no structure, no fees. No property tax $ will be used. The courts and police building was decided on before the banking and foreclosure crisis but anyway the city had to move the courts cause the lease was not renewed. Still, if you look into it the rent they save pays the bonds so the impact on the yearly budget is $250,000, peanuts in an $85 million budget. The art project. Cities across the nation do the same thing. If you look at the fund chart they ran here a while back you see that only $12,000 could be spent on the Fire Dept. or Police, etc. The rest would have to go back to the sewer fund or wherever. Art is important to the economy in A2 and to the city's image. The recycling project: That money is from the Solid Waste Millage so it can't be used to pay for the FD either. When they talk about the "buckets" this is what they mean. The city has a $300 million budget but only $85 million in the general fund. They aren't saying they are going to be in the red. The city can't run a deficit and won't. They are saying they need to take steps to keep the budget balanced. Their fund reserve is full but it would be stupid to spend in on recurring expenses or it would go away in a hurry. That is the mistake the state made. When you consider it all you see that A2 is doing exactly what they need to and is still ahead of the other major cities despite having so much land off the tax roles. But please answer, are all the other Michigan cities that are making cuts mismanaged too?


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 4:31 p.m.

wow really?, you need to take a breath of air. Seems like our city cannot do anything right. City Hall has been outdated and in need of replacement for 25 years. Granted Berlin did bring on a mess but that does not forgive what the ff's did as outlined by TCS. Are all the new buildings being built with general fund money? I do not think so. Your holier than thou and sacred cow attitude is what has the taxpayer upset. If the ff's don't like it here they can go somewhere else. I am sure there are plenty of qualified candidates that would like to work in our awful city.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 3:52 p.m.

@Dalouie. I guess in your eyes I must be stupid... I mean city is crying thay they're out of money. So how to we deal with that... build a parking garage underground, build a castle for the city administrators... oh, and take an extra 5 millon dollars to spruce up the existing structure that wasn't planed for. Then let's build a 4.5 millon dollar recycling facility. All while crying that we're going to be in the red for the next 6 years. Oh yeah, and while we're at it, let's purchase ONE piece of art that's just shy of a millon dollars. Yep, guess we're all stupid according to you.

King of the Trolls

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 3:47 p.m.

Sounds like the union is getting hosed.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 3:36 p.m.

Your political bias is showing. It is remarkable how down on the city most of the regular commentators are on this site. In cities across the state fire and police personnel are being laid off. Look at Lansing or Grand Rapids. But in A2 you all claim mismanagement. Are the other cities mismanaged too? Ann Arbor is clearly the highest rated and best place to live in Michigan and way ahead of the others. City leaders have done a remarkable job with 45% of the real estate off the tax roles, the UM taking away 5% of their revenue just this year and all the state cuts. Meanwhile the city millage rate has not gone up over the past 10 years but has instead gone down. People should recognize that every government in this state is being pushed right now. I don't see how you can blame the city leaders for this. It's the economy stupid.

Thick Candy Shell

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 3:10 p.m.

I think what you are talking about is the N. Berlin early buy out. And if that is the case, there were many people who took advantage of the buy out. The Fire Department took it to the extreme.....They scheduled their retirements with each other so all could advance. Top guy retires....2 guy takes his place for 1 month then he retires.....3 guy who took 2 guys place, moves up to top guy, etc. etc. So all know, they did take advantage of the system, but it was the system created by Admin. They gave a retirement that was based on the final hourly wage or the final average compensation which ever was higher.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:40 p.m.

I would just like to thank Ann Arbor fire fighters for all they do. Working side by side with them I see a very professional group of men and women who do risk their lives for perfect strangers. One of the arguments I read about how often a fire fighter risks his life is irrelevant to me. If a fire fighter risks his or her life to save another person one time is that not enough? Thank you Ann Arbor fire, thank you for protecting my loved ones every day. I don't know when I will need you, but I am willing to pay any amount to you for you to save my life.

Steve Pepple

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:29 p.m.

A comment was removed because of name-calling. Please keep the conversation civil. Thanks.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:29 p.m.

a2roots. Co-pay. yes, just like everyone else. Oh, and let's talk about the retirement package of years ago. Let's talk about the FF's that never took a sick day in their career, or when the FF's were told the city didn't have the money to pay them over time, so w/o asking, they took it in comp time. Now let's discuss how much you know about your history. Then comes the financial mastermind the CITY hired. This individual created a package that he and others in city hall would take advantage of and built to suit their situations. But in order to make it look like that's NOT what they were doing, they had to offer it to everyone. Then they talk the the HANDFULL of firefighters and told them that they would actually be saving the city money if they took this package and just walked away. So they did. Now the city fat cats get to use the few firefighters that took this package to hide in the shadows. Funny how you don't bring up the dozen or so city employees that not only benefited from this package, but created it. Again, you think the FD really creates their own retirement and wages? Clearly you will believe anything that those in city hall tell you and don't really care to hear much of anything close to the facts.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:21 p.m.

really?...Been there. Seen how your ff pals have held the city hostage over the years. Let us see the benefits package and who pays for what. The union has always opposed co-pay. Is there any now? And I do remember how your ff pals a few years ago worked the system to improve their payout and retirement. I doubt the mindset has changed.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:20 p.m.

Of course, blame the Union. Why not cut back the pay of city officials? Firefighters are our heroes. Laying off firefighters is a very bad idea. We will all pay for it in the end. Trim the fat cats working in the upper echelon of the city. Firefighters should make a GOOD salary. They put their lives at risk on a regular basis. Cheers to the firefighters of Ann Arbor and the surrounding areas. The public is behind you.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:09 p.m.

@a2roots... the ignorance of your statements makes me think you should run for the next city supervisor. What makes you believe that all firefighters only work to look forward to the retirement package? By the way, the FD didn't create the pension system. It's the same system that all city employees PAY IN TO. Do you really believe that firefighters determine their own salaries, benefits, and pension? NO! It's created by the city and handed down to us. Only in times like these does the city try to make themselves look like innocent sheep that are being taken advantage of. How many professions do you know of where the employees dictates the compensation the the boss? Same goes true here. Use your head.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:04 p.m.

It is a risky job which was chosen by those that do it. That does not give them the right to run rampant over the taxpayer. Tell me again why a ff should be able to retire in their early 40's with full benefits paid by the taxpayer. Let us see a study that shows how many times an A2 ff ran into a building and saved someone over the past 30 years. Of course when they do it they deserve the praise but to make it sound as if this is a common thing is rediculous. Bottom line is our elected officials have a fiduciary responsibility and it has been proven in the past our firefighters think they are untouchable. There is no doubt plenty of pork in city hall but please do not play the safety and fear game. The ff's in A2 only care about the retirement package. How many actually live in A2? Let's get the benefit and co-pay issues out in the open. The ff's have a much better deal than non-union city workers.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:01 p.m.

I've fallen through floors, had roofs come down on me, and been lost in a house all while there to get people out. I do it because of the desire to help people who are in need. Unfortunately, I do it in a city where most of the residents would believe a politician who tries to pit the residents against us.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 1:38 p.m.

I'd say any firefighter who gets paid less than $100,000 to risk their life on call, we're getting a bargain. Let some of City Council and others who want to cut firefighter jobs volunteer to go first into a burning building to rescue a child when the roof is about to fall in.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 1:27 p.m.

Well, sure, and what do you think Fraser and his ego would do then? I'm sure he'd find a reason to make me go away.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 1:26 p.m.

Why doesn't Roger Fraser give up some of the $200,000 plus wage he is making at a cushy desk job and give the men and women who risk their lives to save ours and our loved ones a break. So easy to bash the unions isn't it Roger.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 1:15 p.m.

Sounds like there's a lot of 'experts' here. Let me shed some light on some things from someone who's actually involved. 1) The union has a long paper trail of trying to get the city to the table to talk. The city has refused to accept any phone calls from the FD. 2) At the end of October, the city was to provide it's "fund balance sheet" showing where all the money TRULY was in Ann Arbor. To date, they have refused to provie it, but still state they are out of money. Ok, then prove it. Funny how they won't. 3) No, the city won't be safe if we get rid of fire fighter either by buy outs or layoffs. What the FD is trying to do is make a softer cushion for those leaving like the city was so willing to do for police. And by the way, there are PLENTY of people ready to retire but just fall a little short of the time required. Don't believe the city on that one. 4) Other departments most certainly do send fire to medical calls. Mainly because HVA takes approx 10-15 minutes to reach the townships. FD will always beat an ambulance to a medical (well 95% of the time). 5) To those who say the FD won't offer up any wages/benefits. The city stated that even with cuts to all wages and removal of benefits, they would still want to lay off firefighters. Would you give the farm away knowing that there's no light at the end ot the tunnel? Reference the fund balance sheet where they still won't tell anyone where the money in this city is. 6) To those that say FD plays 'hard ball'. Why is that? The job of the FD is to PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY. The job of city council is to cut cut cut. Would you be happy if the FD just said, "Ok, cut away. And when we get there, we get there." Folks, everything you've heard to date has been just from city hall. Think about that. You going to believe everything they tell you? Think they don't have any hidden agendas?

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 1:14 p.m.

@longfellow A lot of the "nice to haves" are actually on the table, including parks. See the link to my first story out of the council retreat at the top of this story. Fraser laid out 18 options for the City Council to consider as the city rethinks the way it does business in the years ahead, including eliminating general fund support for the parks system, discontinuing maintaining some parks and selling some parks. It also may consider contracting with the county for parks services.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 1:12 p.m.

now I know that the money is coming from another "bucket" as the mayor says, but with such a large shortfall in the budget spending $800,000 on a piece of "art" is embarrassing. ESPECIALLY if the city were to file for bankrupcy


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 1:03 p.m.

Im sure you folks realize that our City Administrator get a bonus for cutting the budget. if the City was in as much financial distress as they claim, be a leader and take cuts yourself, stop the unecessary spending. GET THE CITIES PRIORITIES IN ORDER!! Core Services for a priority for any municipality not new street signs, street lights or art work (what was wrong with the lights we had). Why do we have well over 100 parks that the city can't even maintain. PRIORITIES PEOPLE!!! This city is so used to being safe and secure, well its because of the number and quality of our saftey services. Okay so maybe the mubers are too big. Well the police department is at 1960's numbers right now for personnel. The fire department numbers are down as well. When we sit down with our spouses to cut costs, we look at what we can do without or we look at cutting the "nice to haves" I would never look at my spouse and say " lets save money on our auto life and homeowners insurance by getting rid of it or buying too little coverage" For a lot of people saftey services is an insurance policy. There pay into it but never or rarely use it. But when we need it during the most critical times its worth its weight in gold. The city shouldn't cut the citizens insurance policy, they should look at the "Nice to haves" and cut there. It seems so simple.....

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 12:22 p.m.

If you go to, there is an information sheet on city salaries for fiscal year 2010 that is a public record. It shows that each firefighter on average costs the city more than $100,000 a year in salary and benefits.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 12:20 p.m.

Why are people so eager to believe Fraser and Co. in this instance? Did anyone ever think the headline of this story, along with Fraser's and Hieftje's half-truths, was deliberately inflamatory? The blame for the firefighter's layoffs lies directly with the messed-up priorities of Ann Arbor government.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 12:15 p.m.

@EyeHeartA2 and Rod J. I'm seeking more information from the city along the lines of what you are asking. I'll try to include anything I find out in future stories.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 12:10 p.m.

There are altogether too many unions from one city or county comparing their salaries to another city or county. If "A" sees "B" making a little more "A" gets a raise. Then "B" sees "A" getting more and "B" wants a raise and so on and so on and so on. It happens ALL OVER THE COUNTRY!


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:53 a.m.

I think one way they could cut costs is to find a did\fferent way for First Responders to get to an emergency. When I had an emergency at my home they sent two trucks: one a ladder truck and the other the standard rescue truck before the ambulance came. Surely the cost of running the ladder truck is high. XCouldn't they could eliminate that? My emergency was not a fire emergency.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:49 a.m.

Good point, Craig! And my understanding is that the surrounding departments do not send fire to medical calls. They send HVA. While I would be resistive to taking a pay cut if my bosses were not willing to take one, or cut pet projects, the Union just has to get on board. The alternative should not be layoffs. It should be replacement by a paid on call department. The surrounding departments (notably AA Twp) have a few permantant full time firefighters supplemented by paid on call and mutual aid when there is a fire/emergency. They do this because they cannot afford a full time staff waiting for a few fire calls. Less than one a day for AAFD. How many are when people burn the food on the stove? If the union can't find a compromise then we need to think out of the box for a new plan.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:48 a.m.

A. "They fail to acknowledge that a2, with a population of just over 100,000, is expected to remain stagnant in population for the next twenty years." Amen. And it only grew about 13% over the past 40 years, too. My neighbors and I have been saying this for two years, yet several City Council and Planning Commission members still think our neighborhood should be torn down to allow for a string of apartment buildings. There will be no market/need/demand for more apartment buildings unless there are more jobs! B. "Economic forecasters from Moodys said they do not expect Michigan to see another peak in its business cycle during their entire 30-year forecasting horizon. Pew Center on States, Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril, November 2009." So much for new jobs. C. "They block private development with unparalleled skill, with their new zoning code: "All development is denied, unless a judge forces us to allow it."" I agree that the City cannot seem to get its act together in any organized fashion when it comes to planning and zoning, but there are what, a dozen projects already approved, but not built? Hardly an anti-development stance on the City's part. I have a lot of trouble getting worked up about government obstacles to new development when there is no market (and as a result, no financing) for it anyway. (See A and B above.) How about, instead of pushing for new physical growth, we focus on improving our currently built environment in areas such as quality, durability, efficiency, alternative energy, and the restoration of existing housing and infrastructure? It is time the City (and the rest of the world, for that matter) stopped using physical growth (both development and population) as the only acceptable measures of success. Cut the Percent for Art program and give the money back to the respective budget accounts that funded it (streets, water/sewer, parks, etc.). NO SACRED COWS! Stop the give-away to Google, which has not delivered on its promises, despite continuing to do better than most companies in this recession! NO SACRED COWS! And while your at it, stop giving away school money to SPARK which has nothing to show for it except the jobs they've created for themselves. NO SACRED COWS! The University is a major draw. If the City works to make itself a world-reknowned model of high-quality, energy-efficient living, with an historic small-town aesthetic (see the recent APA award for Main Street),we will have no trouble attracting companies and jobs. The City can start by getting out of the private real estate, private business development, and the private business subsidy industry. Let the private sector pay for public art, too. It always has and always will. Just ask!

Rod Johnson

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:27 a.m.

I'm curious--if only 4% of calls are actually fire-related (250 out of almost 6000), why is the fire department the one with primary responsibility? If calls that can be reliably judged to be medical emergencies were dispatched to EMS instead of firefighters, wouldn't that be a less expensive way to operate? Do first responders *have* to be firefighters? Do these medical calls typically include the whole firefighting apparatus (trucks, etc.)?

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:22 a.m.

"...the union has several proposed alternatives to layoffs, including buy-outs" So if we reduce the number of firefighters through layoffs it endangers the residence of Ann Arbor but if we reduce the number of firefighters through buyouts it doesn't? Aren't these the same people who paraded a series of people through a loophole in to the temporary Chiefs seat just long enough to max out their pension's? It seems I recall this a few years back.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:21 a.m.

Is there an independent study out there that shows relationship of property damage/fire dept response time? Is this cost/benefit considered when determining fd staffing levels? Given just 250+/- fire calls last year, what would be the additional loss if response time were another 2 or 5 minutes? Costs vs. benefits are considered every day that affect our safety (e.g., health insurance industry, hospital staffing, air control towers, etc.) Only in these areas we have little to no say. Just curious.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:17 a.m.

@rusty shackelford As I understand it and this is just what I'm hearing from the city's side of the debate there are very few firefighters who are close to the age of retirement and it would cost far more per person to do a buyout in fire than in police, where there were numerous police officers who were already eligible or close to eligible for retirement.As for the EMS proposal, I'm told this would require the city to make a significant up-front investment in new equipment and training and that's one of the reasons it isn't being explored as much as the union would like. On another note, I've also heard the argument in city circles that even though one of the two downtown trucks likely will be taken out of service with the cuts with regionalism (Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, Ann Arbor Township, Pittsfield Township), Ann Arbor residents actually will have more fire protection available after the layoffs than the city did five years ago. I am hopeful we'll hear more on that from both sides at tonight's City Council meeting and in the coming days.

Blue Eyes

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:13 a.m.

Does anyone remember when the City raided Fire back around the 1970s? It resulted in a lawsuit decision where the City had to make reimbursements to Fire. Is it any wonder that the Fire union is protective? The City saw fit to buy out the Police won't offer a similar package to Fire (or anyone else for that matter)?! Since Roger arrived in town, City staffing has declined, but the number of managers has increased. If the City truly wants to become a leaner organization, the first thing that needs to go is every "new" management position that's been created since Roger;s arrival. Consultants - one of Roger's favorite things - are alive and well in the City. The Housing Commission is currently paying a consultant to reorganize it. The City needs to eliminate the consultants, contract and temp employees before it even thinks about pink-slipping it's permanent employees!


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:47 a.m.

I will repeat it, we are willing to staff 0.68 firefighter for every 1,000 residents that would be five times below the average?


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:42 a.m.

Every time there is to be a cut, it is to the fire and police department--when will the cuts come from those sitting in city hall. First and foremost, we need quality fire/police departments. Frankly, I wish for my tax dollars to go to them instead of the following: 1) Expensive artwork - and not even from the USA 2) Fancy street signs telling folks where to go -- come on these surely were not needed 3) Street sweeping - clean streets vs. safety for the community 4) Leave removal - in the old days, folks raked, bagged and took care of their own leaves. Can't the folks of these days do the same and save tons of $$$ 5) UM does take up a good portion of property, do they donate funds for services rendered. 6) RE: Retirement benefits - those same benefits apply to those working in city hall -- maybe all of you should take a cut there as well as in salary I support the fire and police department 100% -- and to continue to cut personnel is only putting the city at risk -- it could also have an effect on the cost of resident's insurance due to safety concerns. Hooray and best wishes to the folks who put their lives at risk to keep us safe.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:36 a.m.

Typical politicts blame everyone else for problems they have caused.I for one think firefighters and police should be the last ones cut.They do risk their lives as most people won't.They diserive what they recieve


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:34 a.m.

Comparables are reilied upon by both management and Unions in labor negotiations. They are not a one sided statistic. Maybe the folks in Ann Arbor should consider going to a volunteer firefighter system.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:26 a.m.

My understanding on this issue is that: The City of Ann Arbor has been making budget cuts across the board for at least the last five years; Non-union staff have taken pay cuts; Number of city employees has declined thru attrition and lay-offs; State shared revenue has declined; The former Pfizer property was bought by the University, thereby taking it off the tax rolls; Employee medical benefits have been cut - higher co-pays, employee contributions, and deductibles; City services have been reduced; and Police and Fire are the last departments on the chopping block. Fraser solicited suggestions from staff regarding expenditure cuts and revenue increases. I'm sure if you really investigated you would be surprised at how much Fraser has done to keep the City economically stable.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:24 a.m.

This article makes my head spin with questions! 1. Is that pension figure of 70k FOR REAL?? My father-in-law was in DFD (as in Detroit)for 30 years and came out with a pension of just barely over half of that number! You can bet your anatomy he battled more fires! Love firefighters, but if the rest of us can no longer have an employer-sponsored pension, why do City workers think they are the exception? 2. I agree that the University should not be tax exempt (they wouldn't be doing all that new construction if they were too broke to pay some taxes) and I also agree that City safety workers being laid off in high numbers is citizen endangerment. 3. How many years does a City Council member have to serve before they have a pension? I don't know of any Council members who serve for 2 or 3 decades. Can we continue to wonder why socialism is being discussed in the USA? What do our kids/young adults see when they read this kind of information? Return of the caste system? If you're in government, you'll be well cared for. Too bad for those of us who hold non-governmental jobs...I hope Ann Arbor government wakes up before there is a mass exodus of people who no longer can afford to pay any more already overinflated tax dollars and have to leave the City to find a more reasonable tax base. If you think times are tough now, wait until all the "little people" (who work for and sustain the wealthy)are long gone. Can the University employees and City employees sustain Ann Arbor by themselves?


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:19 a.m.

I understand that fires occur much more infrequently than they did 20 years ago, but the idea of employing only 0.68 firefighters for every 1,000 residents worries me especially in light of the recent fire where the trucks got lost and showed up minutes after the purported arrival time logged.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:18 a.m.

Hey, let's just fire every damned body and have Walmart run the world! Nothing like minimum wage fire and police service.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:56 a.m.

The link to the Police Arbitration is: My understanding is that their Healthcare is the same as the Firefighters because they lost the issue in arbitration.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:55 a.m.

How many of the area's unemployed would sign on to become firefighters at a lower payrate and higher insurance copays? Lots I'm guessing. This hardball, union stuff is petty and selfish.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:53 a.m.

Consider the following:. The state of Michigan still has to learn all the things that being a poor state means. When the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis releases finalized 2009 data, Michigan (is expected) to be among the 10 poorest states. Quote from the Pew Center on the States interview with Donald Grimes, senior research specialist, University of Michigan, Sept. 17, 2009.. Michigan has spent the past decade learning the hard way about downsizing. In 2001, the famed automobile capital of the world fell into recession with the rest of the country, but it was the only state never to emerge. Pew Center on States, Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril, November 2009.. Economic forecasters from Moodys said they do not expect Michigan to see another peak in its business cycle during their entire 30-year forecasting horizon. Pew Center on States, Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril, November 2009.. These are some reasons why the City must totally reconstruct its idea of identity and purpose, and reinvent the budget from the ground up. No more business as usual, with quick and ineffective hatchet-jab cuts.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:44 a.m.

Sorry but I'm not interested in averages or other statistics as detailed in the union analysis. Averages mean little and statistics are, especially when compiled by a trade association or special interest (in this case the union), hardly objective material as they are generally simply self-serving. To those senior firefighters that would prefer to sacrifice the newer staff instead of the reopening of contracts in these tough economic times, look up the term "privatization." Personally I'd like to see development of a program where fire personnel are cross-trained to perform other city jobs. During down time certain fire personnel could be serving their employer in some other capacity. Especially since, according to the article, there averaged less than 1 fire-related emergency per day in the city last year. This might suggest I would support AAFD taking over medical transportation as they propose. Just the opposite. I think HVA's role in handling medical emergencies should be expanded and while limiting the AAFD's role in medical situations. HVA is a great "regional" service and their staff are every bit as professional as the rest of the safety community.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:40 a.m.

As the City is on the verge of bankruptcy, spare us a year or more of FOLLY:. File for bankruptcy, place CITY in receivership, sell non essential assets, define essential services, fund them, move on with life. End the FOLLY...


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:39 a.m.

The only solution is that the Union needs to make concessions for the next few years, the average pay nationally in cities of this size is close to 6 figures or more w/OT. Even though the base pay is around half, they figured a way to manipulate the system for all the OT. Next the City has no option but to raise sales tax, possibly 1/2 a percent and go up from their. AA is in la la land if it thinks it can continue to live or prosper at the current rate. Your city leaders are either not up to date with the national economic issues around the country or they haven't realized the decisions made in the past has now adversely effected the regime. If having less firefighters in AA, do you think your homeowners insurance will go up or down. Figure a 5% initial increase coming up next year. Seen that been there. Charging residents an additional charge for emergency medical call out which would average about $900 per call is beyond being realistic. You would think they have a couple of emergency surgeons on board Maybe with the new health plan Obamamedical he can slip in a few extra billion for the AAFD.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:33 a.m.

Act 312 Arbitration allows the arvitrator only to choose the City's offer or the Unions offer based upon comparable communities and ability to pay. If the City keeps losing then what ARE they offering. It seems odd to me that the Unions always win. A friend of mine with some knowledge in the area says that AA firefighters took co-pay and a deductable in their last contract but did not know the amounts. Didn't AA News do an article at the time of settlement? Could staff check the archives to see if we can have this information?

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:19 a.m.

@aataxpayer There was some discussion by city officials on Saturday along the same lines of what you just said. Specifically, city officials say it's been a challenge dealing with those labor unions under Michigan's Public Act 312 of 1969, which provides for compulsory arbitration of labor disputes in municipal police and fire departments.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:10 a.m.

City Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, proposed an alternative to laying off firefighters on Saturday, saying the city should discontinue paying for Google parking. He said an economic development fund with about $1 million left in it has been paying for Google employees to park downtown and that money should be raided to save firefighters' jobs. Dismissing the idea that it wouldn't be fair to Google, he pointed out that the company has not brought the 1,000 jobs it said it would bring to Ann Arbor. Other council members disputed Kunselman's proposal, saying the money could only be used to avoid layoffs for a short while and, after the money is used up, the 14 positions still would be cut, so it didn't make sense. Tom Crawford, the city's CFO, also advised against it, saying it wouldn't be a good business practice.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 9:03 a.m.

a2grateful, with all due respect your argument is flawed while mine isn't. My argument is that if Government entity A (the University) paid taxes to Government entity B (the City) then Government entity B would have an improved bottom line. Your rebuttal "if the State of MI paid property taxes, the state budget would look a whole lot better" states that if Government entity C (the state) paid taxes to itself it would improve its bottom line. My hypothetical makes sense, yours does not.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:46 a.m.

Supposedly, one could also argue that if the State of MI paid property taxes, the state budget would look a whole lot better. Also, if the State paid income taxes on their tax revenue receipts, they would have a new revenue stream!


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:43 a.m.

do you know how to tell if Roger Fraser is lying? ans. his lips are moving. why not bill for services? most of the surrounding fire departments do. why not a tax on students? why not a income tax? oh just remembered ROGER doesn't live in AA he lives in Scio township.SCIO TOWNSHIP!!! Roger you are a legend in your own mind! If you need to cut, cut from every department equally,and include every one.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:39 a.m.

I for one am sick and tired of the firefighters holding the city and residents hostage. I am fairly certain that "benefits" and "co-pays" have always been the root of the problem. Hey a2grateful, sounds like all you want to do is bash. Seems weird considering your pen name.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:31 a.m.

"U of M is an economic engine for the state and region. Be grateful for their amazing presence!" It should be noted that "we the people" of the State of Michigan collectively own the University and subsidize it to the tune of millions of tax dollars a year. One could argue that if the University paid property taxes the City budget for Ann Arbor would look a whole lot better.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:21 a.m.

Would anyone state such an opinion as they dial 911?


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:14 a.m.

The fire dept over the years has always played hardball. Craig you make some good points. The "benefit" side of the equation needs to be addressed. Not sure if they have any co-pay. There are very few places you can work these days and not have a co-pay. Sorry firefighters but the day of being the sacred cow in Ann Arbor is going away.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:13 a.m.

The major problem facing the City is that they are involved with so much FOLLY, they believe that FOLLY is the new essential service. For example:. Mayor and council believe they are proficient real estate barons. They are the county's largest property owner on the verge of bankruptcy.. They own many commercial properties that have been rendered virtually useless in their tenure of ownership.. They block private development with unparalleled skill, with their new zoning code: "All development is denied, unless a judge forces us to allow it.".. They have more "parkland" than they can manage and maintain.. They continue to purchase development rights for property that no one wants to develop any longer.. They remove affordable housing from private sector and replace it with nothing.. They promote mass transit in the absence of mass.. They are art czars purchasing aesthetically displeasing junk with truckloads of cash (and then need to label it with the words "art").. They are eliminating jobs while keeping their own.. They attempt to slash payroll and benefits of true service providers while preserving their own payroll and benefits.. They propose new taxes and special assessments to cover items once paid for by taxes, prior to the new era of City a2 FOLLY.. They fail to acknowledge that a2, with a population of just over 100,000, is expected to remain stagnant in population for the next twenty years.. They fail to acknowledge that city income levels will not reach recent levels for decades to come, and that it will likely continue to decline for at least the next five years, before stabilization.. In order for City officials to have credibility with anyone, they need to administer "amputation" of their own payroll and benefits before asking anyone else... council first, followed by all administrative heads, followed by all professionals.... U of M is an economic engine for the state and region. Be grateful for their amazing presence!. The City of Ann Arbor is the largest drain and threat to the City of Ann Arbor.... By the way, the latest installment of City of a2 FOLLY is payable by 12.31.09.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 8:07 a.m.

If the police and fire departments account for 1/2 the entire budget of the city, as the article states, I don't see how cuts in these departments can't be on the table in some fashion.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 7:50 a.m.

The City web site only says "Starting salary for Ann Arbor Firefighters is $43,585.26." Clearly it goes up from their and that would be without overtime. I googled the Bureau of Labor Statistics but they show all Firefighters in the Ann Arbor area in their averages so the information would include Ypsi and all the townships. That would drive the numbers down. I found nothing on benefits but all the city's workers are about the same (give or take nuances) so they are comparable to the negotiators benefits. I would like to know, though if A2.comcould find out. I didn't read in the article where Frasier, Jones or the non-union workers were taking or have taken a pay cut or benefit cut. And now we pay the mayor and council for serving. Did they take a cut? Sounds like laying off 14 Firefighters is a scare tactic unless the leaders and the rest are willing to share the pain. My question is are they tring to scare the fire union for cuts or the taxpayers for a raise? Charge Ann Arbor Citizens for Medical services by the Fire Department they already pay for? What a self-serving idea?!? It would double-dip the elderly and the chronically ill. Or bill the insurance and help drive rates up. If this is the best the union has.... Bah Humbug!

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 6:47 a.m.

Given that the city would like to negotiate pay cuts and the firefighters decline to entertain the notion I am curious how much firefighters make in Ann Arbor? What sort of copays do they have for health care? What sort of vacation and retirement benefits do they have?