RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The 35 Reno firefighters expected to be laid off when the SAFER Grant ends is high, but it could have been worse.
On Wednesday, the city announced how they avoided losing 50 positions, as orginially expected. The Reno City Council discussed budget recommendations in order to keep layoffs at no higher than 35.
Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said this a very difficult time for their organization, and he hopes they will be able to save even more than 15 jobs. "At the same time, we are working to try to look for opportunities to save as many jobs as we move forward, and again, we've got some plans we're trying to implement internally to try and nip away at that 35 number, and we may be relatively successful, we'll just have to see how the numbers work out."
Reno city leaders are recommending the city use one-time funding from the Regional Transportation Commission to pay off City Hall debt, which would help save the 15 positions. It would free up $1 million each year over the next four years.
"Basically retaining those 15 allows us to keep one station open," said City Manager Andrew Clinger. "Without those 15 we would be faced with yet another station closure."
If 50 positions were to be eliminated, four stations would be browned out, instead of three. Clinger said that would have been a critical situation. "The stations we chose for brown are strategically located where we have other stations that can cover and they also have low call volume."
Clinger said as soon as the city found out they were not getting the SAFER Grant, they looked to change their budget strategy moving forward. They are looking at other alternatives to save more jobs. "There may be some retirements that could happen in the fire department, which would then lessen some of the layoffs we have to do."
"I mean, we've already had one individual come forward and say they will retire to save somebody's job."
Another budget workshop will take place on May 6. The final budget is expected to be adopted by city leaders two weeks later.