Prescott tells hotshot families city can't afford to pay full survivor benefits
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - The city of Prescott says it's not only illegal to extend full survivors' benefits to the families of 13 seasonal firefighters who died in the line of duty but unaffordable as well.
The city released cost estimates Wednesday showing the price tag would top $50 million over 60 years and lead to cuts in vital services. The city says a lump sum would cost $24 million - or three times the budget of the Prescott Fire Department.
The six other Granite Mountain Hotshots who died June 30 were classified as fulltime employees. The widow of one of the 13 seasonal employees has been pleading for the same benefits their families will get.
The city has canceled a meeting next week to discuss the future of the Hotshot crew.
Fallen hotshot Andrew Ashcraft's wife Juliann released this statement in response:
"Every day, it seems, the City of Prescott dribbles out a few more documents and fulltime fire fighter and, thus, that our four children and our family deserve nothing at all in benefits from the City of Prescott.
Let me again say what I have said all along: That beyond the City's few sheets of paper, there exists a set of facts that speak to Andrew's full-time work for the City of Prescott. Andrew averaged more than 70 hours a week working for the City for all of 2012. He held a supervisory position on the hot shot crew and he was given a raise to full-time pay in February of this year. He received verbal assertions that his promotion a done deal. And he filled what previously had been an approved full-time, fully benefited position.
We believe that a full accounting of the facts will show that Andrew served Prescott as a full-time employee and that he earned the right to be treated as one.
I'm sorry that the City of Prescott leadership feels it necessary to drag out this fight in the media, with one press release after another. I hope sometime soon they begin to respond with some compassion, instead of ignoring my repeated requests to meet and speaking to me only through press releases and negative attacks."
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)