Excerpts from abc7chcago.com:

The Harvey Firemens Association IAFF Local 471 said the city has laid off half the fire department after the city was ordered to pay its police and fire pension fund. The issue has been a longstanding problem with the fire and police pension funds. After failing to make payments for more than a decade, the city recently began contributing to the pension funds again.

But per state law, Comptroller Susana Mendoza is currently withholding more than $1 million in revenues due to the city to make sure the pension fund is paid. City officials are crying foul, saying the city’s collection rates on property taxes are not enough to sustain government operations, and they need those state funds to operate. But Monday, a judge agreed with the state and the money will be on hold to deal with the pension problem.

The union posted about it on their Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, saying, “The city has laid off 18 firefighters, half the fire department is gone! Prayers for the citizens and families of those laid off.”

Harvey officials held an emergency meeting Monday night with city employees and warned there could be major layoffs due to lack of funds. Officials argue the city has engaged with negotiations with police and fire officials with no resolution.

Tuesday morning, Harvey officials were speaking with the state comptroller’s representatives. The Harvey comptroller said pensions will not be sustainable going forward and Harvey’s city attorney said the city is planning on filing appeal to stop the state from withholding funds. Officials say employees will be paid on Friday, but after that, no one knows if they can pay their bills.

A spokesperson for the comptroller’s office said in a statement Monday, “The legislature passed a law allowing pension funds to certify to our office that municipalities have failed to make required payments to pension funds. The municipality has a chance to respond. A judge ruled today in favor of the Harvey Police Pension Fund, saying the funds were appropriately put on hold. This dispute is between the pension fund and the city of Harvey.”