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Posted on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 6:03 a.m.

Layoffs take effect in Ann Arbor Fire Department without retirements

By Ryan J. Stanton


Ann Arbor firefighter Tilvis Bolen gathers his belongings from a ladder truck at the fire department's headquarters downtown after returning from a call on Wednesday. He says he's sad to see four of his peers lose their jobs.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Four Ann Arbor Fire Department employees finished their last day on the job this week, the latest casualties of the city's budget struggles.

Those being laid off include three firefighters and one management assistant, said Fire Chief Dominick Lanza, who declined further comment.

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The hats of three firefighters who were facing layoff earlier this year sat on a truck at Station 4 in Ann Arbor in January.

City officials were hoping to avoid implementing layoffs, but their plan counted on other firefighters retiring by July 1.

Mayor John Hieftje expressed regret that the last day of the city's fiscal year came and went on Wednesday without any of the city's seven retirement-eligible firefighters hanging up their hats.

"My heart goes out to the folks who are being laid off," Hieftje said. "But again, these are unprecedented times in our state, and I don't think there's a city left that hasn't had to make painful decisions."

The Ann Arbor City Council approved a budget in May for the new fiscal year, which starts today. The budget includes trimming five vacant positions in the police department and five jobs in the fire department, only one of which was vacant.

City Administrator Roger Fraser said the fire department is the only department to see layoffs, although a significant number of vacant positions are being eliminated throughout the city.

Early in the budget process, 40 jobs in police and fire had been slated for elimination. But after revisions by Hieftje and council members, only five were cut in each department — with the hope that layoffs would be avoided through firefighter retirements.

Hieftje said 12 firefighters in Grand Rapids recently retired to save the jobs of younger firefighters facing layoff there.

But in Ann Arbor, fire officials acknowledged back in May they were unsure whether those eligible would retire because no financial incentive was offered.

"That's a personal decision that they have to make, and currently there's not an incentive to do that," Lanza said at the time. "The city's not in a financial posture to do a buyout like they did with the police officers."

Hieftje argues there was enough incentive.

Hieftje said the firefighters eligible to retire could have left the city with more than $100,000 cash in their pockets, their full pensions and retiree health insurance. He said each had more than $100,000 banked from unused sick days and vacation time over the courses of their careers and will receive that money as a cash payout when they retire.

"When we talk about incentives, it's hard for me to understand why any additional incentive would be needed," he said.

Representatives of the Ann Arbor firefighters union did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Hieftje said the city has taken steps in recent years to cut down on those kinds of large cash payouts. In the 1980s and '90s, employees could walk out the door with a couple hundred thousand dollars or more when they retired, but that's no longer the case, he said.

A New York Times story Sunday looked at the issue on a national level, pointing out how one New Jersey town paid out nearly $1 million to four retiring police officers for their unused sick days and vacation time.

Lanza said in May that eliminating five positions in the fire department would be manageable. He said no fire stations would close, and the city still would be able to get firefighters on the scene of a fire as quickly as it does today.

But the firefighters union has disagreed with the chief, claiming the department already is substandard. Lanza declined to comment on Wednesday when asked if he still believes response times wouldn't diminish.

Hieftje said the layoff of firefighters is a first.

"So far as I know, I don't think the city has ever laid off any firefighters — at least not in modern times," he said. "But these are unprecedented times and the worst situation for government funding since the 1930s."

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



Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 11:36 a.m.

so what do u suggest firefighters?departments all over the country are going through this and it's only going to get worse.layoffs will happen if retirements don't.$200,000.00 ain't bad even in Ann Arbor.u can always move somewhere where it's cheaper to live like Willis,Milan,Monroe,or backwoods Idaho

Ron Granger

Tue, Jul 6, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

At least they got their new city hall! The one that the people of Ann Arbor repeatedly rejected... The one they funded somehow. The one that was essential to accomodate all this growth in "public servants"... The one with the big windows... And their secret art committee even stole the public art money to adorn it (with a really lousy piece of art).

charles lightoller

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 8:22 p.m.

Pardon all the mistakes in the above post. Lost my connection before I finished the preview. Surprised to find this posted. Corrections: ISO is Insurance Services Office. AA has, or had, a Class 4, I read here. What will it have after cuts? That is something to know before making economic decisions.

charles lightoller

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 5:57 p.m.

It appears that Pasadena does have some paid staff. The city also has a contract for private ambulance services. Some FD provide that. It does not appear that the department ever converted. It was developed from a volunteer base. I am not aware of any city that has gone from paid/cereer to volunteer. Extremely difficul to accomplish. Also, every city has an ISO rating (Insurance Service Organization, i beleive). The ratingis based on type of department, adequancy to fire loads and response times, and water service for suppression. The rating determines the fire insurance rate for the community. Go to volunteers, cut the force, close stations and everyone pays more for fire insurance. What you save publicly, goes private, and then some. Plus, you get no protection, only de[reciated value payments for loss. In some cases, it means insurance is not affordable, or will not be underwritten.


Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.

Interesting that after reporter Stanton injected Hieftje into his earlier hatchet job on candidate Pat Lesko (in which Stanton relayed charges of Lesko's alleged falsehoods), Stanton does not show the least sense of ethical balance in this article on the Firefighter layoffs. Instead, he omits mention of the fact that Lesko accurately described what the city administration is doing to the Firefighters. She also exposed the weasley way of words that Ann Arborites have had to get used to under this inept, pro-developer, wasteful, backdoor-dealing city government. Not many readers are going to trust Ann's local political coverage if it does not correct its initially craven and partisan approach to local issues.

Steve Pierce

Sun, Jul 4, 2010 : 10:59 a.m.

Hey AlphaAlpha, The range came from people I spoke with that do military contracting and oil services recruiting work. That pay range is base pay. There are add-ons for hazardous duty and extended stays. There aren't many benefits beyond medical. Like most private sector jobs, no one pays a pension. There are retirement plans like 401Ks but typically there isn't a match though with some larger companies there may be an ESOP or profit sharing. Some of the conditions can be tough. Besides people wanting to blow you up or kidnap you depending on the country you are in, you often times are sleeping in old barracks with interesting critters coming in for a visit and not the most pleasant of bathroom facilities. The best pay seemed to be working for oil services company and contract services in the African and Middle East region. Qatar seems to pay well and food is very good. But competition for those jobs is intense. With good pay and conditions with good equipment and facilities, lots of folks want to work there. When I talked to recruiters, I was asked more than once, "know anyone that wants to McMurdo station in Antarctica?" No clue what the pay is down there, I should have asked. Here in the states, the money can be competitive with public sector jobs working for oil and petro chemical service firms. Remember all those guys working to put out the oil fires in Kuwait? To get these jobs you need certifications and usually 3+ years of experience. The higher pay is for folks with 10+ years of experience and specialty certs like HazMat or management and contract experience. DoD (Military) certs don't transfer well so you end up often times re-certifying. Sometimes you pay, other times the company will pay and you will get hired on provisionally while you re-do your certs. The only way to get these certs for the most part is to work as a volunteer firefighter or as a public sector (gov't) employee and get the certs. Then you can move into private contracting. The reason the pay is good is you aren't likely to get a contract fire job near your home. You are going to have to travel, likely overseas and for months at a time. It isn't for everyone. It is why here in Michigan, when a public sector firefighter job opens, there can be over 100 candidates. Cheers! - Steve


Sat, Jul 3, 2010 : 5:42 p.m.

Steve - Good comment; facts are helpful. Do you have a link for the $90K claim? 90K sounds like total compensation. Checking and at top end salaries are ~ 59K and ~60K / year; adding ~50% for benefits gets $90K /year total compensation, the best metric. Btw, the sites list government workers earning the highest compensation; niche contract FFs overseas do earn higher though...especially in petroleum.

Steve Pierce

Fri, Jul 2, 2010 : 10:24 p.m.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost asked: "How much, exactly, does the "private sector" pay people who run willingly into burning buildings to save the lives of others?" The pay is $30,000 to $90,000 a year depending on experience and you can work part time or full time. There are a number of companies that provide contract fire protection services to private property owners and businesses. Also many large corporations, manufacturers, refineries, and labs have their own paid full time fire service. Many companies provide contract private fire service for overseas clients. The pay for those jobs can be double what you make in the States. You work typically three months in country and then get one to two months off and the company pays for your travel. I know folks that instead of taking a ticket to get back home, meet their family at an island resort and spend a month together and then go back to work. The benefits are good and the training and equipment are top notch. Here is an article from about Private Fire Service from 2009. Another story from I am not advocating for or against private fire service, but the question was asked how much does it pay. The answer is it is comparable with public sector pay and often times better. Cheers! - Steve


Fri, Jul 2, 2010 : 11:55 a.m.

"I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing I just caused 4 people to go into a life altering crisis but apparently Heiftje has no problem doing that." Then you are not equipped to be a mayor, councilperson, or administrator. Or a boss of employees at any job. It's not an easy thing to do but sometimes you've got to.


Fri, Jul 2, 2010 : 7:29 a.m.

Irritated - If thats not the reason then what is? Are you going to tell me they can't find enough money in a 80 million dollar budget to fund 4 positions. 4 people they just hired, who quit other jobs to come here and now they are throwing them out on their butts! Heiftje wants to blame the older firefighters rather then saying yea its my fault. Maybe he sees the pictures of the FF's walking with Lesko trying to get him out of his cushy job and is saying, "eh why help them?" This isnt just the elimination of 4 positions, its ruining the lives of 4 people. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing I just caused 4 people to go into a life altering crisis but apparently Heiftje has no problem doing that. $300,000 in a $80,000,000 budget? come on now!


Fri, Jul 2, 2010 : 7:03 a.m.

logicnreasoning, Q: Restricted fund monies come from.......? A: Restricted funds are monies from other funds, of course. We all know the shell game.

Joe Hood

Fri, Jul 2, 2010 : 12:05 a.m.

Wait, where's the "I told you so" from Pat Lesko. She predicted exactly this. That there were no willing retirees when council said the layoffs would be handled through retirement.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 11:07 p.m.

I'm offically tired of this A2 firefighter issue and all commentary and articles related to it. We have fires sometimes in Ann Arbor and all the ones I've heard about or seen get put out by somebody or another. End of Story.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 11:05 p.m.

@Gorc, Thanks for letting me know I said "Smuck", instead of "Schmuck". I was writing in a hurry and not checking my spelling like many of us here on Have a good evening!!!


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 10:21 p.m.

In my post above (for clarification) "construction" I mean anything related to the building department. Sorry for not being clear.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 10:12 p.m.

@Jack Eaton Your facts are wrong. First the parks funding that you refer to for the football parking would be general fund money, not parks funding. Second, the TRACKIT system was mostly paid for from restricted funds (building permits etc) that could not pay for safety services; it would be illegal to spend those funds on safety services or anything unrelated to construction. These are a few examples of you misleading the voters, a la Pat Lesko. 4th Ward voters deserve better.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 9:36 p.m.

@ Ed Bandston The cops also endorsed Pat Lesko and they didnt get laid off so NO thats not why the FF got laid off. @ Ed Morrow I got my info from within which tells me its probably accurate

Dominick Lanza

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 8:14 p.m.

Also interesting the firefighters endorsed Patricia Lesko maybe thats why they were the only ones laid off? Oh what a tangled web we weave payback anyone????


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 6:41 p.m.

100k is not a real number the city caps sick time at 900 something and vacation time falls off the records at 2 or 3 years and if they get 4 weeks a year that is around 480 so 1380 hours times lets say they make 30 an hour which is unrealistic that means they get 42k that is taxed at 46% i am pretty sure the numbers are close and that it also means they never have gotten sick or took a vacation in long time. All in all this article sounds like a attack on the firemen from the mayor to me who im sure will deny it. Isnt it bad enough you made them give up 4% then lay them off to slap them in the face with this and you had help you do it. No wonder there unionized

Dominick Lanza

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 4:33 p.m.

Born N Raised apparently didnt read the article very well the Fire Chief did not shoot his mouth off, here is the very first sentence of the article "Those being laid off include three firefighters and one management assistant, said Fire Chief Dominick Lanza, who declined further comment." He did not say a word about pensions, or who was able to retire or how much their retirement would be. HE SAID NO COMMENT that means he said nothing else. All the other mentions of him are old news from previous articles, on this topic he did not comment. Let us get real this guy comes here the decision is already made the Fire Department is losing people the Fire Chief before him who left instead of face the issue told the City the only way they could save the money they wanted was to lay off people he offered no other savings and he left. So the seed is planted before the new Chief arrives. How do you blame him? As I have said before and will say again I have a family member who works in the Fire Department and they tell me nobody ever asked the new Fire Chief to come up with the money to save any jobs maybe he had a way. We will never know because the decision was made for him.Lets not forget the firefighters were the only city employees to give back 3% pay and their reward they are the only department to have layoffs. So put the blame where it belongs and that is directly in City Hall. In addition, as far as volunteer firefighters lets have volunteer cops, garbage men, street workers let us get freebies for all our City services. Get real we pay for good professional services all of our City Services.

Bob Needham

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 3:25 p.m.

(off-topic comment removed)

Jack Eaton

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.

millermaple - Yes I did get the card in the mail and I knew that the service is being eliminated. The point I was trying to make was that the administration's "big ideas" aren't very big and are not germane to solving the general fund deficit. I did speak about the leaf pick up in context of the solid waste millage and single stream recycling at the 4th Ward Candidate forum, which is covered in Dave's usual comprehensive manner on the Chronicle site:


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 2:52 p.m.

Jack Eaton- didn't you get that blue card in the mail?- the city is eliminating leaf pick up, we can purchase an extra recycling bin from the city. no one seems to know or care, it will be certainly be a big problem "It considered eliminating bulk leaf collection, but that is within the solid waste budget and has no impact on safety services. It considered allowing football parking in parks, but that only would have generated $34,000 and it arguably would be parks funding not available for safety services"

Jack Eaton

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 1:42 p.m.

Correction. I believe I misstated the cost of the TRAK-It software. A software package couldn't possibly cost a million dollars. I shouldn't write these comments from memory. I will double check that expense. Sorry for the mistake.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

It seems many of you are not happy with my comment regarding the pay of firefighters. I do think they are overpaid -- many of the com-laints appear to come from firefighters themselves. There is no doubt that firefighters risk their lives on their job. If we are to base pay on the risk of death in a job -- then there are many less paying jobs that carry a greater risk of death than firefighter ie: Midnight shift at a 24hr convenience store (Dept of Labor stats). Now, I like firefighters but we need to reign in the pay of all public employees and firefighters are part of that. I do not think we stop with just the firefighters, but we don't skip past them either. Many people in the private setor have lost jobs, changed careers and are earning less money now -- I believe the stat i read yesrterday was that 55% of americans have been directly affected by the recession and one of the only sectors of labor that has grown is Government (Dept. of Labor). We, as a city, need to do more with less in order to make things work.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 1:20 p.m.

"Lanza said in May that eliminating five positions in the fire department would be manageable. He said no fire stations would close, and the city still would be able to get firefighters on the scene of a fire as quickly as it does today." Well thyere you have it. I keep hearing people say we don't have enough people, but the Chief seems not to mind, so I'll listen to him I guess. Without any actual figures either way, it's all I can do.

Jack Eaton

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 1:03 p.m.

It is sad that the City places such a low priority on police and firefighter staffing. We are below nationally accepted staffing levels in both departments but allow further reductions. This problem will not go away. The administration failed to address the structural problems in the budget this year and instead relied on the generosity of the DDA. Next year we will have the same difficulty as this year and the additional problem of further loss of property tax revenue and loss of state revenue sharing funds. The reductions in police and firefighting staffing are the result misplaced priorities. The administration spends on items it wants but cuts areas we need. During the working sessions that led to this budget, the administration proposed big ideas in its attempt to put everything on the table. It considered eliminating bulk leaf collection, but that is within the solid waste budget and has no impact on safety services. It considered allowing football parking in parks, but that only would have generated $34,000 and it arguably would be parks funding not available for safety services. There was a discussion about forming Special Assessment Districts for areas that have more street lights than necessary, but that would be unlikely to generate enough savings to have substantial impact on the budget deficit. What could the City have done? The City knew of the coming budget crunch well in advance of the budget working sessions. It spent money on unnecessary items while the deficit problem grew. For example, the administration spent over a million dollars on a planning software system called TRAK-IT which is intended to make planning documents more accessible to developers and the public. As great as that might be, no one can claim that it is a necessity. Similarly, the administration spent about $500,000 planning the Fuller Road station for commuter trains which the federal transit administration believes are not viable. Last year the City spent $120,000 on a consultant who will reorganize the citys zoning ordinances without making any substantive changes. Even if these items were desirable, they were not necessary. So without seeking cuts to any other department, the City could have made spending choices that would have avoided the firefighter lay offs and avoided some of the cuts to police staffing levels. But there are also areas of the budget which have increased substantially in recent years that should be reviewed and reduced before we cut essential safety services. Both the information technology and legal departments saw significant budget growth during years when we were reducing police staffing through early retirements. The fleet services budget has grown remarkably during that time, as well. Allowing police staffing to dwindle through early retirement and attrition and cutting fire staffing through lay offs is the result of placing higher priority on the things the administration desires over the things that taxpayers need. The failure to address the structural problems in the budget will likely lead to a request for a tax increase. But the choice is not between tax increases or further cuts to safety services. The real choices are made in identifying priorities that place necessities above desires.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 12:59 p.m.

@ stunhsif - the Yiddish term you were trying to use is schmuck; not smuck


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

"Can you cite national normative data to support this assertion? I you can't answer these question's you're just makin' it up." Do you have this data? It must be hard to find becasue I don't remember seeing it around? I think if we had that info it would help everyone decide if they are over/under staffed.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

@ Edward R Murrow's Ghost "3) A city of roughly 100K moving to "Volunteers" is unprecedented" Eddie - I know you don't like to let the facts get in the way of a good story but perhaps you should take a look at the city of Pasadena, Texas. Population of approx. 140,000 and an all volunteer Fire Department. I believe that qualifies as precedent.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 10:45 a.m.

Looks like there are a bunch of economists posting here. Public employees 'banking hours' are giving their employer an interest free loan. So where is the incentive to leave with money you worked to earn? Maybe every employee should cash out all of their loans to the city now.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

City budget news from other parts of the state: Bay City firefighters ratify union contract, avoid layoffs Final salute: Lansing's Hillsdale Street fire station closes due to budget issues


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 10:37 a.m.

"If you had been on the City Council when the current budget was being prepared, what steps would you have advocated that would have avoided these layoffs? Be specific." How about not waiting until a crisis to start making sound business decisions, in fairness to all? This is like the old "Mismanagement on our part creates an emergency on your part" Back some time ago the council and Roger Fraser might have thought about adopting a policy regarding all retirements-both union and non-union. Did you think that taxpayers had bottomless wallets? Either you offer incentives for all or incentives for none of them.....union or non-union, instead of handpicking who you offer golden parachutes with multi-million dollar payoffs to and who you thumb your nose at. How was it that the city "found" money last year and had millions to pay off the non-union higher up desk jockeys at the police department? And now the mayor says they can't do that like they did in the 80s and 90s? Huh? This wasn't 20 years ago, it was last year. Someone isn't being honest with the taxpayers.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

Looks like Washtenaw County's unemployment just rose fro 8.8 to 10? Or more? I was told all of the Ypsilanti, Lincoln, Willow Run and Ann Arbor transportation filed for unemployment. Going to be interesting to see if they get their benefits since Congress just went on vacation before approving the money. Sad day when we need these guys to keep us safe and the almighty dollar puts them out with us.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

its not 'smuck'!...(but maybe misspelling is a good strategy to avoid getting 'moderated'... anyway i 2nd david cahill's inquiry requesting other aspirants to office to say how they'd have handled this situation.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Heardoc there are very few private sector firefighters in the U.S. and most of them work in places like chemical plants, refineries, large factories ect. In those settings they all make good money and have good benefits, as good or better than public firefighters. If you are going to call for equal pay between public and private you need to compare pay for the same job. The reason for the large payouts is that they didn't use sick time and vacation time that would have caused overtime which saved some money in the past. That offsets some of the expense. Also when they work overtime they have the option to take it in pay immediatly or bank it for payout at a later time. Many of them chose to save the payout for retirement. Now they are being chastised for planning for retirement Craig Lounsbury "According to FEMA statistics 70% of the fire departments in America are entirely volunteer and another 16% are more than 50% volunteer. So most fire fighters do what they do out of a sense of duty and receive no financial reward at all" I don't know how you came up with that but I can guarantee that very few fire departments are volunteer but are in fact paid on call. They respond from home but once they are responding they are on the clock and getting paid. The majority are doing it out of a sense of civic duty but many would quit if they were no longer getting paid for it. Plus lots of full time firefighters work for their local paid on call fire department where they live. So don't try to insinuate that they are somehow greedy because they do it for pay. Stunhsif I could devote an entire column responding to your comments but I will only say that if you are going to retire with no pension, no healthcare and cashout, you are not like every other private sector smuck because most will do better than that.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.

The Ann Arbor Fire Dept has been overstaffed for years, losing 3 FF's is not going to make any difference in how they do business. They could have laid off 20 FF's and still been able to handle the call volume for our City.It does not matter how many FF's a city has buildings will still burn down and people will still Die, its the nature of the business. New York City has thousands of FF's and they still lose buildings and people to this tragic force. We as citizens have been fooled into believing the Fire Dept is substandard by all of there scare tactics and guidelines that very few Depts across the nation are able to follow. There are cities out there who have many more serious calls than Ann Arbor and less Firefighters per capita yet they still manage to serve and protect there communities.I'm sure all the Depts out there would like to be able to staff according to the rules put out by pencil pushers, but the fiscal reality of this makes it impossible to do. AAFD needs to focus on training, adjusting, and what Mr Fraser has proposed all along REGIONALIZATION of county services.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.

BornN Raised, That's what I recalled. And that Golden Parachute wasn't for rank and file, it was for higher ups. And so what is this statement the mayor makes? ___________________ Hieftje said the city has taken steps in recent years to cut down on those kinds of large cash payouts. In the 1980s and '90s, employees could walk out the door with a couple hundred thousand dollars or more when they retired, but that's no longer the case, he said. ___________________ Perhaps he should have added "Unless you were a non-union police command person last year, in which case you could walk away with millions." How soon you forget, Mayor Heiftje.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

"When we talk about incentives, it's hard for me to understand why any additional incentive would be needed," he said. Interesting. Not needed? Then why did he give away the store with "cash incentives" to the AAPD higher ups last year? As I recall that was a huge payout.

David Cahill

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 8:46 a.m.

A question for candidates for City Council (and their various surrogates, anonymous and otherwise) who are running against incumbents: If you had been on the City Council when the current budget was being prepared, what steps would you have advocated that would have avoided these layoffs? Be specific.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 8:35 a.m.

Something like a YEAR'S WORTH of banked sick/vacation time? Sounds excessive to me. Who in the private sector would ever even be allowed to do something like that?


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 8:32 a.m.

It seems that everyone has forgotten the 4% paycut the Firefighters took back in December 2009 was used to prevent layoffs of 20 FF's until July 1,2010, not forever. The Firefighters knew this when they agreed to the pay cuts, but now that its time for the necessary cuts they want to act surprised!

Blue Eyes

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

"Pay on par with private..." Yippee, sign me up! Until the construction industry went bust, the private sector got as much in a bonus when a job finished as the public sector earned in a year. Sure they have ups and downs, but the private side still comes out way ahead when it comes to pay. Maybe the benefit and retirement differentials have something to do with the pay differential?


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.

I understand jobs could have been saved if they took their retirement but why would you put those eligible to retire in that position and then make comments they had incentive to do so. As if it was their fault jobs weren't saved... Possibly they aren't ready to retire or possibly lack of trust in the city......hmmm just a thought

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 7:53 a.m.

@ERMG "How much, exactly, does the "private sector" pay people who run willingly into burning buildings to save the lives of others?" @Ypsidweller "How many in the private sector would do that for 10 a day?" According to FEMA statistics 70% of the fire departments in America are entirely volunteer and another 16% are more than 50% volunteer. So most fire fighters do what they do out of a sense of duty and receive no financial reward at all. Do not assume I am NOT suggesting Ann Arbor should go volunteer, I am merely tossing out a perspective that I have not seen mentioned.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 7:53 a.m.

No one in the private sector is able to bank sick days or unused vacation days. As well, the firefighters got paid for all the overtime they worked ( which helped them earn more vaca days). Gold plated Cadillac benefits that only government workers enjoy. I would give my left foot to be able to walk away with 100 grand and a pension and healthcare till I die. I will retire with no pension, no healthcare and no cashout just like every other private sector smuck!


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 7:08 a.m.

100,000 over 25 years=4000/yr Thats about $10/day. $10/day and miss Chrismas mornings, birthdays parties, time with your family, etc. How many in the private sector would do that for 10 a day?


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

Budget cuts,job layoffs.fiscal responsibility..It has come to my attention from a laid off A2 worker that the City of Ann Arbor contracts out it parking/traffic ticket processing to a New York firm???????????,Why not a MI company or keep inside City Government?. Hmmm.for every $10.00 ticket they keep $8.00,The City of Ann Arbor gets $2.00 in return..I hope that is not true.I wish Ann Arbor.Com would investigate this..To see if this is true?.With all the towing and ticketing the City of Ann Arbor does,would not keeping a portion of that $8.00 per ticket in the budget keep jobs such as Police and Fire fighters?..Also if you do not have residential sticker you are not ticketed,you get your tire marked with a piece of chalk?.You get 1 hour to move your car?,then get marked again?,Without an fine/ticket?.Write them a ticket,and let them park in the structures or open lots $$$$$$$ sometimes Ann Arbor is too passive on this issue.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN ROUND 1! In the center ring we give you A2 Firefighter retirement eligible vs A2 Firefighter on lay off!! Yep lets start some in fighting now within the Fire Department. "You cold have we have 4 Firefighters that are laid off!!" Anything to re-direct the spot light! Thanks Mayor I am sure this makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy knowing how bad this makes you feel.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 6:40 a.m.

AG - Ann Arbor has a city administrator who handles contract negotiations. See that bolded "Roger Fraser" in the article. The Mayor has no more say over city contracts than the rest of council. What kind of bold leadership on the part of a mid-sized city councilmember would have prevented the Michigan economic crash? I sincerely hope that there is no incentive built into the existing pension to keep those potential retirees from retiring. You sometimes hear of pension plans that give people higher payouts the longer they stay on the job. I can certainly understand people staying on the job because they really enjoy the job, because they have kids to put through school, or they really can't afford to retire. I would hope that the pension plan doesn't make it attractive to stay on the job longer however. On the other hand, the firefighters did their part when they took pay cuts. They were the only city department to face layoffs?!? If the administrator thinks the fire department is overstaffed, he should make a better case for that. Otherwise, the firefighters should never have been put in the position of having layoffs after they did their part and took pay cuts.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 6:38 a.m.

@Hunterjim: The reasons for the $100,000 payout and full benefits and retirement pay are inadequate and is far too much in pay -- far too much. I will repeat: we should pay government workers (firefighters included) on par with the private sector.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 6:28 a.m.

@Heardoc-please fully read the article. This is time that those firefigthers earned and had saved over the course of their career by not taking time off of work for vacation and sick. Sounds like some pretty dedicated staff members to me.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 6:19 a.m.

Heardoc, I knew someone would comment on the 100K payout as excessive...the reason the firefighters have such large comp/vacation bank in big part is that they are working overtime to fill in where they were needed. The city like many others decided that it is cheaper to pay existing employees overtime rather than hire additional people. Well, you pay them now or you pay them when they retire. They could not use the extra banked time because the time off was limited due to a shortage of employees. It is a vicious circle, but one that can not be blamed on the employee rather the city who made the management decision to operate this way. It is a sad day when we have to layoff employees, but do not blame those employees who decided not to retire, they have families to feed, children to put through school, mortgages to pay, just like everyone else. Finally, if the City does not like they way it compensates it's employees it should bargain in good faith when contracts come due. The city expects it's employees to live up to the terms of their contracts, the employees and citizen expect the same of the City.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 5:51 a.m.

Wow! With $100,000 in banked sick pay and full benefits and retirement pay -- no wonder the city and state are going broke. There is a move to pay state/city/municipal workers on par with the private sector and the savings are in the $200-$300 million (some estimates at $500 million) range if the entire state did this. Sounds like the firefighters are overpaid. Appears there is a need to reign in the pay, and hence the union, for the firefighters.