Cornwall fire dept. budget ‘sliced and diced’, says chief

Cornwall Fire Chief Pierre Voisine makes his department presentation to the city budget committee on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Voisine says they have sliced and diced the budget of any non-discretionary spending in order to absorb increases to wage and benefits. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Cornwall’s fire chief says they have had the budget “sliced and diced” to bring in a 1.43 per cent departmental increase.

But Pierre Voisine cautioned members of the budget committee Wednesday there could be a different conversation in 2017 about the 2018 budget as capital expenses keep getting delayed.

Voisine estimated the fire department chopped about $111,000 out of its budget before it came to the committee.

The fire department will be starting 24-hour shifts in 2017, part of an award in the last round of arbitration. The chief said it won’t make the job of firefighters “easier but different.”

Voisine said the fire department and the Cornwall Professional Firefighters Association have not exchanged proposals for a new contract.

The last contract, which saw an overall increase of 7.5 per cent over three years, expired at the end of 2015.

Coun. Mark MacDonald asked about the progress on the Fire Master Plan. Voisine said the “big ticket items” such as relocating the main fire hall and an underwriters’ study will need to be addressed.

“The numbers are a bit high but I see progress,” said MacDonald, a strong critic of the rising costs of emergency services.

The chief said they are also working toward having a training facility built in Cornwall by the spring and the department also trimmed travel for training, electing to bring more training in-house.

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