To finance a legal settlement with firefighters, Mayor Greg Fischer has proposed taking two steps his predecessor didn’t, with a result that some leaders say will be less divisive for the city.
The city owes about $14 million to a group of firefighters who were underpaid for overtime for years. Fischer has asked the council to let him borrow $10 million from the Water Company and pay the rest out of the city’s nearly $65 million rainy day fund. Both accounts would be repaid over the following years.
Last year, the council issued $35 million in bonds to finance a similar settlement. Since the firefighters were underpaid by the old city before merger, many suburban residents didn’t think their tax dollars should go to the settlement. But the city owns the Water Company, and Metro Councilman Kevin Kramer the new settlement will not likely be very controversial.
“Bringing the Water Company in is a tremendous asset this city brought. So borrowing against a city asset should diminish some of that debate/discussion about the urban versus suburban. I don’t get a sense this time that that is really going to come back up as an issue,” he says, adding that he’s pleased with the idea, “I think it was refreshing to see that [Fischer] was willing to consider a suggestion made by folks on the council. [Last year] we requested/required of Mayor Abramson that he would send a letter to the Water Company asking them to contribute. The letter that he sent over…it really wasn’t a very compelling letter.”
Council members also suggested tapping the rainy day fund last year. The Board of Water Works will vote on the loan Tuesday. The council will vote on it Thursday.