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Task Force Meeting Will focus on Ways to Avoid Fire Fighter Layoffs

The group was formed in response to the City Council decision to lower minimum staffing levels at all Milpitas fire stations.

The Milpitas City Council, in an effort to lower costs, voted to reduce minimum staffing levels at all Milpitas fire houses which will result in layoff notices being sent to four fire fighters.

The City Council directed that the task force be formed in order to look for ways to fund the fire fighters and avoid the lay offs.

“We have a 30 day window before they are released from their duties,” said Leif Juliussen, a fire Milpitas fire fighter acting as a spokesman for Local 1699 which represents the fire fighters.

According to the union, the city has chosen to pay overtime to fire fighters rather than pay for more personnel but was forced to cut the overtime budget when revenues fell short.

The result is the layoff of four fire fighters and a lower minimum staffing level at all the stations.  The union claims they have already taken pay and pension cuts and that current staffing levels are lower than they were in 1978.

Milpitas City Manager Tom Williams was out of the office and unable to return a call to Patch.

When asked if the fire fighters would suggest a city-wide tax to support public safety Juliussen said, “Revenue generating ideas have been brought to the city council in the past and of course ways to generate revenue to support core services like public safety are a good thing.”

He added though that any tax measure would have to come from the city council and other members of the task force, and not the fire fighters union.

The special task force will meet at 5 p.m. in the Committee Meeting Room at Milpitas City Hall, 455 East Calaveras Road.

What do you think?  Should the minimum staffing levels for fire fighters be cut or should the city look to other areas to cut expenses?  Should the city council put a public safety tax measure on the next ballot?  Tell us in comments. 

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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, email the editor at milpitas@patch.com.

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