Thursday, FEbruary 1, 2018

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Newburgh firefighter cuts loom

Newburgh city firefighters rally efforts to secure funding to retain 12 who are expected to be laid off in July when
current federal funding expires

NEWBURGH – Congressman Sean Maloney (D, NY-18) joined forces with city officials and city firefighters Thursday, fresh off their battle with the Verla factory fire in November that left one dead and five firefighters still recovering from injuries, to talk about impending cuts in the city’s fire budget.

Maloney had helped secure SAFER grant funding twice in a row for the city’s fire department, the latest being in July 2016 that will fund a dozen firefighters through this July; however, if no additional funding is found before then, they will undergo layoffs, lowering their ranks to 56 from the current 68.

Maloney said he is certain that without local help, he will not be able to secure funding for a third time.

“This is life and death. We’re talking about the safety of these guys who risk their lives every day.

We’re talking about the safety of people who work and live in this area because when disaster strikes, these are the guys who show up and they run into the fire when the rest of us are running out, and it’s not too much to ask that the rest of us step up and support it,” said Maloney. “We have done this together for five years; but, I want to be crystal clear: without help, I am not going to be able to fix this problem again,” he said.

According to City Manager Michael Ciaravino, the cost, just to keep from having layoffs in 2018, is estimated to be approximately $350,000 to $400,000 and $1 million per year for each following year.

Ciaravino added that because a substantial portion of the city is either tax exempt, or partially tax exempt, there is already vocal concern about raising taxes, as there is only a portion of the community paying for them.

He would like to see funding come from regional sources, rather than the city, as Newburgh operates a professional fire department that is often utilized by neighboring municipalities under mutual aid.


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