Hartford's budget could impact first responders - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hartford's budget could impact first responders

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Hartford's budget could impact first responders (WFSB) Hartford's budget could impact first responders (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Hartford is in dire need of money as the city is facing a $48 million dollar shortfall.

Fixing the problem is complicated, but its no surprise to former Hartford City Council Member Ken Kennedy.

"It's bad, but the city has been in bad financial straits for a number of years," Kennedy said. 

As of Tuesday, 85 Hartford firefighters were eligible to retire by June 30. Seventy said they are thinking about retiring if cuts are made, according to union officials. That would cost roughly $4 million in sick pay and vacation time.

On Tuesday, public safety employees protested outside the state Capitol against the proposed state government layoffs and cuts to public services.

The union said the department, as it is, is already down to 334 firefighters from 403 in 2012.  

President of the Firefighters Union Vincent Fusco said it would not be easy to replace them. 

"You will lose experienced members of this department and the police department," Fusco said. "They will be gone; they will not be replaced by this mayor." 

Fire departments could also be closing, but it is unclear how many.

No decision has been made on what will be cut by Hartford's Mayor Luke Bronin.

"The gap will soon be so big that even if we eliminated our entire police department and our entire fire department --- we would still have a deficit," Bronin said.

However, there's no question, the cuts will impact city services. 

"That would be unfortunate if we lost that much institutional memory and experience at one time, but I don't blame them," Kennedy said. 

Exactly how it would impact response time and other paramedic services remains to be seen. But Kennedy told Eyewitness News, taxpayers will ultimately foot the bill. 

"You would have more overtime for firefighters, more time in their station," Kennedy said. 

If there aren't enough firefighters, the union said it would impact response times.

The mayor's budget is due to city council next month. The City Council will review it and make any budget cuts final in May. 

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