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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Council’s Internal Auditor Uncovers $7 Million Discrepancy in Proposed Firefighter Contract

As part of the City Council Finance Committee’s continued vetting of the administration’s precedent-setting 5-year proposed agreement with the firefighters’ union, a hearing was called on Tuesday evening to receive the administration’s formal testimony and supporting financial documents. During a comprehensive analysis of the fiscal note provided by the administration, the City Council’s internal auditor discovered that the administration overestimated its savings in personnel changes by $7 million.

In a memorandum addressed to Finance Chairman John Igliozzi, internal auditor Matt Clarkin states that based upon “the proposed personnel changes associated with the reduction of the minimum manning requirement to 88 from 94 per shift, the decommissioning of three pieces of apparatus, and the addition of 12 battalion chiefs, it is projected that these changes will result in a net savings of approximately $9.1 million . . . the Administration projected in its fiscal note that the change to minimum manning clause would result in savings of approximately $16 million during the [five year] period of the [tentative agreement].”

“To date, we know three things about this proposed agreement,” said Igliozzi. “We know that the administration is still requesting to foreclose on a critical opportunity for pension reform in the next decade. We know that the platoon problem they created 13 months ago by refusing to pay firefighters appropriately has left an outstanding liability of around $12 million. And now a $7 million shortfall in the savings publicly touted by the administration has been revealed.”

Igliozzi says the Finance Committee will hold additional hearings to continue the vetting process. A public hearing will also be held in the near future to give the people of Providence an opportunity to weigh in on the terms of the contract.