Posts Tagged Joliet city council debates accepting federal grant for firefighters

Joliet debates accepting grant – update

The Herald News has an updated article about the City of Joliet accepting the federal grant for firefighters:

 The Joliet City Council ended a lingering dispute over a $2 million federal grant for firefighters by voting 7-2 Monday to take the money.

The vote came after assurances from city staff that not only would Joliet get eight firefighters paid for by the federal government, but the city would save nearly $2 million that otherwise would have been spent on fire department overtime.

Doubters said those savings could be washed away by a grant requirement that the firefighter force be fully staffed for the two years that Joliet gets the money. That requirement can be waived, but opponents said they were uneasy with the possibility that Joliet would have to pay to replace any firefighters who retire.

Thanas said the city does need to control overtime to balance its budget, and hiring firefighters with federal money is a way to do it. The other option, he said, would be to cut services by not staffing ambulances and closing fire stations.

The city has 201 firefighters now. The new hires will bring the firefighter force up to 209.

The police force, meanwhile, is down 60 positions from its peak number before the recession hit. The decline is due mainly to the number of police officers who took an early retirement incentive.

The entire article can be found HERE.

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Joliet debates accepting grant

The Herald News has an article about the City of Joliet debating about whether or not to accept a federal grant:

A $2 million federal grant to hire firefighters likely is to remain a controversial topic for the Joliet City Council this week.

The council meets Monday and Tuesday, and the federal grant is on the agenda for a vote that was delayed earlier this month.

Some council members have voiced concern that accepting the federal money aimed at beefing up fire department would tie the city to a grant requirement that it keep its firefighter force at 210. Council members and some neighborhood leaders have pointed to a severe manpower shortage in the police department, although Joliet plans to hire more police next year, too.

New questions also are being raised about the timing of a decision to extend an old hiring list used to hire firefighters while the grant was being pursued. Mayor Thomas Giarrante’s grandson has moved up on the list since it was first implemented in February 2007 and stands to be hired if the grant is accepted.

The list was extended to save on the cost of new testing while the city was in a hiring freeze.

Read the entire article HERE.

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