The Press of Atlantic City published a story today, “Atlantic City mayor’s exit likely to extinguish Fire Dept. funding,” by Michael Clark and Lynda Cohen.
Councilman George Tibbitt, head of the city’s Public Safety Committee, drew attention to Fire Department spending when he raised questions about $60,000 for upgrades to fire stations ordered in one day.
“That kind of gave firefighters a black eye,” said Capt. Angelo DeMaio, president of the city’s firefighters union. “We’re just asking for what we needed, and the mayor – no matter who’s in there – needs to see that.”
A copy of a budget inquiry from the city details several payments for desks, shelving and window shades for all six stations. Most council members concede the needs of the department, but criticize the effort to aid every condition in Evans’ last days.
Station 2’s condition is deemed most crucial because it houses the units for collapse and trench rescue, and the Hazmat team.
An upstairs window once used to practice rapelling [sic] was deemed no longer safe to hold a firefighter, Battalion Chief Michael Mooney said during a tour of Station 2.
He tapped on the ledge: “If I hit this with any force at all, it would come off.”
I am torn when reading the entire article, this portion in particular. On one hand, I want the fire fighters in my town to have adequate facilities and equipment. On the other hand, fire fighter salaries seem very exorbitant. At the very least, the manner in which the Chief’s increase was snuck-in during the last moments of Mayor Evans’s tenure is suspect. Fire fighters put their lives on the line every time they respond to a fire. I appreciate their courage and sacrifices.
The fire fighters are part of public safety, which is part of the larger city budget. The budget is jam-packed with fiscal irresponsibility. Those of us feeling the strain of the current economic downturn have to pinch our proverbial pennies and re-think our own budgets. The losers in this and all situations pertaining to the wasteful city budget are the rank-and-file government workers and taxpayers.
The situation of deteriorating fire stations, fire equipment, and increased property taxes will not be improved until both rank-and-file government employees and taxpayers together demand that those responsible for determining budgetary expenses eliminate waste and lower spending.