Ten Atlantic City firefighters retire as cuts still loom
Atlantic City lost 10 veteran firefighters to retirement this week. But could still lose 80 more if the state gets its way. State oversee Jeff Chiesa has called for nearly halving the department, with about 100 less firefighters. But Judge Julio Mendez put those cuts on hold as a lawsuit filed by the fire union winds its way through court. The retirements of some of the longest-serving — and highest paid — firefighters will ultimately save some jobs, Fire Chief Scott Evans said. “But the state is still looking to drastically reduce the force,” union President Bill Dilorenzo said. “If nothing changes, at least 25 minimum would be laid off to keep 180.” It would be 80 to get to the state’s 125 target, he said. But he said if the city was given year-and-a-half, that number could be reached through attrition, “and with a lower budget than they are projecting.” The budget is nearly halved since 2010, Dilorenzo said. From $29 million to $15 million. Mendez will meet with the attorneys next month to lay out the case schedule. It’s estimated that a quick trial would take the case until September or October, Dilorenzo said. The cuts will remain frozen until at least then, but Mendez did lift a stay on changes to the contract, saying if the union is ultimately successful, the changes will not cause irreparable harm. The police union followed suit and is awaiting the judge’s decision on whether he will allow about 20 cuts to happen to their ranks. Mendez was expecting to possibly have his decision this week in that case.