RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The loss of a federal grant is being felt by Reno's Fire Department. On Tuesday, city leaders said they will not be receiving more than $11 million in federal funds from FEMA.
As a result, as many as 35 firefighters may be laid off. The notices will go out May 1, and terminations would be effective July 1.
City leaders are also adding to the list of station brown outs. Station 10, on North Virginia, near Parr Blvd, will only be manned during times of high fire conditions. That is in addition to the brownouts of stations near Somersett and on Skyline Blvd.
City leaders said they had planned for this potential loss of funding. "We have a plan that minimizes the impact to the citizens of Reno and still supports our council's priority of safe and livable neighborhoods," said City Manager Andrew Clinger.
The timing of the layoffs, which come just five days after a new fire station opened in south Reno, did not go unnoticed. Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said he spent most of his morning explaining this. "That's been one of the questions I received quite a bit this morning, is how is it that we can open a station Friday and then the following week, we're issuing layoff notices."
On Friday, News 4 covered the opening of a new fire station in Damonte Ranch. The planning for this new station began in the mid-2000's. Chief Hernandez explained the funding for this station came through a public-private partnership. This means roughly two-thirds was paid for through developers and impact fees. Friday's celebration was paid for by developers.
There are several other ironies about Tuesday's announcement. The loss of this supplemental source of revenue comes against a back drop of rising home prices. This usually means higher property taxes, and therefore, more money for the city of Reno.
"When you look at property tax, which would be the greatest impact in recent home prices, we don't see the results of that for three years," said Clinger. "So while home prices may be going up and any increase in property taxes associated with that, we won't see for another two years."
Another irony is the loss of up to 35 firefighters comes right at the start of what may be a busy fire season. "We did not set this time line," . "This was dictated to us by the federal government."
City leaders said they learned about the loss of this grant on Monday, and had a Plan B, just in case.
"We are entering into the fire season and we're closing a third station. However, if the need warrants, we can staff those stations to fully protect the city when those conditions exist."
The city is beginning a new budgeting cycle. Clinger said they are looking to see if any positions can be saved. In the meantime, he said the city will do everything it can to help the firefighters who will be impacted.