cities and towns

Ian Donnis / RIPR

In a sharp defeat for fire unions, two bills that would strengthen their hand in dealing with cities and towns on overtime spending are dead in the current legislative session, lawmakers and a top fire union official say.

Legislative committee votes on the two high-profile firefighter overtime bills were canceled Thursday, and neither of the bills is expected to get a vote before lawmakers conclude the session.

Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss his efforts as lieutenant governor, legislation restricting charter schools, the PawSox and other issues.

John Bender / RIPR

Municipal officials from around the state are opposing legislation that would make fire department staffing subject to collective bargaining. They say the bill effectively eliminates their power to control the budget.

Mayors and town managers say they should have control over schedules for firefighters, to cut down the cost of overtime. Legislation now pending at the statehouse would require collective bargaining for schedule changes.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Want to get a sense of why Rhode Island is unlikely to see anytime soon the consolidation of fire services in communities -- like Coventry, Lincoln, and Burrillville -- that each have a handful of local fire districts?

Consider these two points:

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien has proposed a budget that excludes any tax hike for residents or businesses. The proposed 112-million dollar budget includes buying a rescue vehicle to cut overtime costs, giving schools 600-thousand extra dollars, and setting aside money in the rainy day fund. Grebien said the arrival of new businesses, cuts in city staff, and grant revenue helped craft the budget.

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