Coun. Rivette tries in vain to cut four firefighting positions

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – Coun. Andre Rivette has cast the first budget cut, moving to remove four firefighters from the payroll.

But the majority of councillors – all but Rivette – put the brakes on the move, saying they needed more information.

The firefighting positions are vacant right now and the department has been in the midst of interviewing potential candidates. The positions have been empty since March 2014.

Coun. Rivette said with the tweaking of holidays that the fire department can live with 13 firefighters scheduled on a shift compared to the current 14 for 10 mode.

But Coun. Mark MacDonald says the action has to be careful to meet the legislative requirements. “We have to proceed very carefully because we’re talking about safety and property (but) we need to cap the overtime budget.” MacDonald said.

“We have to start some place and we need to take a stand…we are not reducing the level of service,” he said.

Coun. Brock Frost says it’s something that should be explored but he couldn’t support the motion right now because he’s worried about levels of service.

Coun. Justin Towndale also couldn’t support the motion Friday saying he needed to wait for the Fire Department Master Plan, which is expected sometime in March.

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy says before the budget committee makes significant cuts or adjustments the councillors should share their visions and bring them to the table in March.

“We are not putting anybody in danger by losing these four people….it’s doable. We can’t deal with truth,” Coun. Rivette said.

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