Updated: Auburn firefighters union criticizes city government in press release

2013-06-20T03:05:00Z Updated: Auburn firefighters union criticizes city government in press releaseGreg Mason | Auburn Citizen
June 20, 2013 3:05 am  • 

The Auburn Firefighters Union Local 1446 released a press statement Wednesday in the wake of City Council's proposed departmental cuts for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

According to the release, the reason for the city's budget shortfall is caused by the city's contract with Greenfield Energy for the co-generation facility, not by employee benefits.

The current budget proposal from City Manager Doug Selby cuts eight fire department positions to cover a gap of approximately $3.5 million.

Furthermore, proposed cuts from City Councilor Matt Smith from Tuesday's special City Council meeting would further eliminate eight more department positions, including four assistant fire chiefs and two full-time firefighters.

The statement gives a list of concessions made by the union and several recommendations of staffing management from outside organizations. This includes a reported $500,000 in contractual concessions during recent contract negotiations, according to the release.

The release states the city has paid for two independent studies of the department, with both studies recommending the current staffing levels at minimum.

The Auburn Fire Department is the only department in Cayuga County with an Insurance Service Office rating of 2, according to the release. ISO is run on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst. Should the department's ISO rating fall due to insufficient staffing levels, insurance premiums will go up, according to the release.

In response to the fire department, Selby released a statement in which he speaks for city government. Selby said the city does not agree with the quoted amount of concessions, $500,000, by the firefighters.

"We do acknowledge that there have been some considerations brought forward that would be of financial benefit, however, they were accompanied by items that would actually increase total costs and therefore we remain apart on this issue," the statement reads.

Selby said the "burden of unfunded state and federal mandates" as well as a stagnant economy are part of the reason for restraining city resources and workforce reduction.

"Although the near-term revenue outlook is rather bleak for city government, we hope that as the local economy improves over the next several years, we can restore city workers and services," he said.

Smith echoed Selby's statement, saying "most of the (statement) was completely fictional." He also said the amount of $500,000 is "grossly inaccurate" and that the fire department's latest proposal would increase costs, not decrease them.

"The bottom line is that we have a fire department we cannot afford," he said. "When the starting salary of a fireman increases by $20,000 in five years, we know that's a bill the average taxpayer cannot afford to pay.

"Instead of looking to reform the department, they're looking toward their self-interest."

Although he admits the co-generational facility has lost money, Smith said it is not the cause of structural deficits facing the city. Some of the reasons Smith listed were shrinking manufacturing, runaway pensions, binding mandates, retiree benefits and binding arbitration rates, all of which Smith said "are systematic problems state-wide."

"It would be the world's largest red herring to suggest that the facility would be to blame for the enormous structural deficit that the city of Auburn is facing."

Staff writer Greg Mason can be reached at 282-2239 or Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMason.

Copyright 2015 Auburn Citizen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. takaping
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    takaping - June 26, 2013 7:10 am
    Selby and Smith are both in positions - in and out of city hall - to influence our kids and lead by example. The only example they are fit to show to my kids is what kind of person NOT to be. Thankfully mine do not attend one particular school district because after this fiasco I'd be pulling them pdq.
  2. LipstickOnAPig
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    LipstickOnAPig - June 20, 2013 8:42 pm
    Selby said, "Although the near-term revenue outlook is rather bleak for city government, we hope that as the local economy improves over the next several years, we can restore city workers and services." The local economy improves? People are leaving Auburn. This is not indicative of an improving economy. There are no jobs for people here, and no plans to bring any to the area either. But maybe this is what they want, an elite little community made up of the people they want to be in it, while they weed the rest of the "unwanted" out.
  3. patchwork
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    patchwork - June 20, 2013 10:37 am
    lol. Neither, whatever goes on the internet remains forever and a 2 minute search was all that was needed. You did bring up some interesting points in your research.
  4. dgfenn
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    dgfenn - June 20, 2013 9:43 am
    Let's face it, life in Central New York isn't what it once was.
  5. GetInvolved
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    GetInvolved - June 20, 2013 9:11 am
    I don't know whether I should be flattered or frightened that you have an archive of my postings.
  6. bella
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    bella - June 20, 2013 8:43 am
    Tactless attack that has nothing to do with the fiscal crisis facing the city of Auburn.
  7. fullytaxed
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    fullytaxed - June 20, 2013 8:38 am
    Surely the city has been mismanaged for some time and have cost us, but thats only part of the story. Nobody has addressed the the State pension system and its wide scale abuse, or binding arbitration. We are told we have pension reform? Yet we still hear about FAS (final average salary). In the private sector if your fortunate to have a pension, its based solely on years of service, and rarely can you retire in 25 years. In the NY public unions your final 3 years determine your pension. Coast for 22 years and work as much OT as possible to inflate your pension, and in a lot of cases turn in sick time for medical coverage for life. State unions have binding arbitration. Ask for a unreasonable amount and get most of it in binding arbitration. Both need to be eliminated. FAS may not apply to city employees, but they are in the the State system inflating our contributions to the state. State employees need to have more skin in the game, with larger contributions from the individuals
  8. patchwork
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    patchwork - June 19, 2013 10:26 pm
    Getinvolved, Well at least you're on the same page and have a similar opinion to the one of Mr Smith. A few months ago you mentioned the "bloated salaries" of police and firefighters in Auburn, then posted some of your research. Here it is:
    " I had checked this out awhile ago. Nearly half of the approximately 300 Auburn city employees work in the police or fire departments. Of the top 50 highest paid employees, 45 work in those departments. The average annual salary of all police and fire employees is $68265. Employees in all other positions average $43693. The total salaries of those departments is $9,693,646 and has 1 employee for every 193 residents. Compare that to a slightly larger (2,000 more residents) city like Elmira which has total salaries of $9,321,977 and 1 employee for every 211 residents."
    I'm sure Matt Smith appreciates you making some very good points. It should be interesting to see how the union responds.
  9. Dusted
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    Dusted - June 19, 2013 8:44 pm
    A merger needs to occur - the city and the county are providing so many duplicate services it's ridiculous!
    Or how about we actually use the cops to write tickets to all those folks parking on both sides of the street - lots of funding there to be had.
    Better yet, let's get the code officers teamed up with the firefighters to actually do something about the trashy ratholes around town. - lots of citation$ to be had there and some cleanup would help prevent fires.
    Or even better make sure all the dogs are licensed -there's some more bucks + add cats to that law - most real cities have cat laws on the books that include licensing and leashes = more revenue.
    Overall - yeah -get rid of city hall and merge up with the county.
  10. GetInvolved
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    GetInvolved - June 19, 2013 7:59 pm
    Mr. Tact strikes again. Matt Smith has a way of setting up an adversarial situation that will only complicate a difficult task even more. He may sometimes have a point but that gets lost in the manner it which he arrogantly presents it. For him to make an issue of public pensions and employee benefits is totally hypocritical. He is quadruple-dipping at the public trough. According to, in 2012 he earned $59,558 from his primary teaching job at Weedsport, $5,222 from the Auburn School District, $4,338 from BOCES and $9,845 from the City of Auburn for a total of $79,013. Not to mention the fact that his wife also earns a public salary as a teacher; however, this should just be about Mr. Smith. I look forward to how the Union will respond to Mr. Smith's comments.
  11. Mr bwash
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    Mr bwash - June 19, 2013 6:45 pm
    Shut down the City Hall building and sell it.

    Cut all the administrative assitants. And let the city manager and Mayor retrieve their own voice messages and manage their own calendars.

    Sell city hall ... Let some entrepreneur convert in into condos and have city employees maintain home offices

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