The city of Lancaster, Ohio recently closed one of its firehouses after laying off 13 firefighters.
LANCASTER — Engine House 3 has been shut down indefinitely, and Lancaster will have just two firehouses covering a city of 18.84 square miles and more than 37,000 people.
“It’s going to be a very fluid situation with all these changes going on,” said Lancaster Fire Assistant Chief Dave Ward.
The layoffs took effect on Monday. Engine 3 and Medic 3 are being stored at Engine House 3, 1596 E. Main St.
A huge tarp was put across Engine House 3, saying it was closed and that if you have an emergency need, call 911.
But Mayor David S. Smith is asking for an increase in the city’s income tax.
City officials are asking voters on Nov. 8 to approve a 0.25-percentage-point increase in the city income tax for five years, raising it to 2 percent. The increase would generate $2.5 million annually to help balance next year’s budget, Smith has said.
“It’s critical,” Ward said. “If this doesn’t pass, I anticipate city hall having to lay off more firefighters.”
Even though he’s already had to lay off firefighters, plus is asking for higher taxes, Mayor Smith says the reforms in Senate Bill 5 won’t help his city.
But Smith doesn’t think SB5 would have helped his town at all.
“Senate Bill 5 doesn’t save the day for anybody,” he told The American Independent.
Let’s look at some figures in Smith’s own budget. According to the 2011 Lancaster city budget, the city will spend almost $1,000,000 in pension pickups this year, and spent over $1,000,000 in 2010. Lancaster city employees also pay less than 15% of their health insurance premiums.
By letting the SB5 reforms take effect, Lancaster would save roughly $1,000,000 in pickups alone. One million dollars isn’t going to help the city? Mayor Smith is flat out lying to the people of Lancaster, probably for the sole purpose of helping to pass his tax increase. Hundreds of thousands more could be saved by discontinuing longevity pay and having employees pay 15% of their health insurance premiums.
Smith calls himself a Republican, something that the left has been giddy in reporting, but he testified about public-employee collective bargaining to the House Labor committee on behalf of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’s Democrats last year. Mayor Smith should be honest to his constituents in Lancaster, instead of misinforming them. So far, he has been willing to use layoffs and tax increases to balance his budget. If voters decide against Issue 2, and against the tax levy, even more firefighters will be laid off.
“If the levy doesn’t pass in November, I think we can expect there will be even more layoffs,” said Lancaster Fire Assistant Chief Dave Ward
People need to know the truth about what Issue 2 could do for Lancaster. Mayor Smith isn’t giving it to them. You can ask him why here. How many firefighters does 1 million dollars pay for, Mayor Smith? I’d guess about 15, maybe more. That means 15 more people would keep their jobs, and Lancaster would be safer.
Vote YES on Issue 2.