Last updated: February 19. 2013 7:41PM - 718 Views

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WILKES-BARRE - Mayor Tom Leighton Thursday told the city's fire fighter union head that 11 from his department will be laid off, effective Saturday.

According to Mike Bilski, president of Local 104 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Leighton revealed his plan during a meeting Thursday morning at City Hall.

We're down to 53 people for the rest of the year, Bilski said. And these are all young guys who don't have December vacations. I don't know what we're going to do to fill shifts.

Asked if he was concerned about the safety of city residents, Bilski said, Oh my God, yes. we can't operate with just one engine on per shift.

In a prepared statement, Leighton said the furloughs are required to ease fiscal pressure on the general fund budget through the end of the year. Leighton stated he is updating his budget proposal that will be submitted to city council.

These are tough financial times for the City of Wilkes-Barre, Leighton stated. Between the Centax crisis and the lagging economic recovery, we cannot continue to finance all government services and employee costs without cooperation from the city's unions. Tax increases must be coupled with savings from the employee workforce.

Leighton stated he does not believe public safety will be jeopardized by the furloughs. He said he has met with Fire Chief Jay Delaney to ensure a plan is in place for proper manning of the city's emergency service stations.
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