Covington's firefighters union is fighting to get staffing
and equipment levels back up in the wake of a scandal surrounding the city's
finance director's arrest.
Adam Edelen, Kentucky's auditor, announced last week in a
report that Bob Due is responsible for stealing $793 thousand from the city.
Covington firefighters say Bob Due's alleged actions put them in a situation
where they've had to make cuts. They say they're below ideal staffing
levels, which browns out their busiest water-carrying pumper.
City leaders say Due's accused actions aren't the
"By the national standards,
we are 10 people less than what the national standards call for every day on
shift at the Covington Fire Department," said Jimmy Adams, president of
Covington Professional Firefighters Local 38.
Typically, the department staffs
27 firefighters at minimum. The union says cuts were made because of
Due's alleged faulty reporting. Because of that, they say the city's
busiest pumper, Pumper One, has been left idle for nearly every day since
September 26, 2011.
"To me, it's never been
about the money. It's about the safety, and making sure we have enough
people to cover the calls," said Adams.
City leaders say it's not
Bob Due's alleged actions that forced cuts.
"Bob Due's embezzlement did
not impact firefighter staffing at all. Our budget situation of a couple
years ago, we had to get our house in order," said Larry Klein, Covington's
Cuts were made, including
$600 thousand in overtime from the fire department to balance the budget and free
up money for things like infrastructure repairs and replacing ambulances and
police cars. However, city leaders say Due's alleged theft wouldn't keep
Pumper One running every day.
"This action was taken two
years ago long before Bob Due's embezzlement was known to the city. If
you take the amount of money he embezzled over 12 years, that amounts to $195
per employee, per year. That would not restore $600,000 in overtime even
if all that money was put into one department," said Klein.
Fire leaders just want staffing
restored for the citizens.
"It's about making sure our
guys go home at the end of the day, and making sure we do the best by the
citizens of Covington for the taxes they pay," Adams told FOX19.
Union officials say Due dismissed
many cost-saving proposals that would have stopped the city from terminating a
staffing contract. That contract over the city's right to dictate
staffing levels is currently court. Klein says he expects a decision from
a judge in a month or two.
Saturday, July 26 2014 2:09 PM EDT2014-07-26 18:09:07 GMT
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