Budget Battle Heads To Court
Omaha, NE - The budget battle between the Omaha Fire Department and Mayor Jean Stothert continues. This time it's headed to a court room.
Last Tuesday, the Omaha Fire Union filed a lawsuit against the city. Today is the first hearing.
The lawsuit came just hours after Mayor Stothert handed in her budget proposal to the city council that included layoffs and demotions at the fire department.
It also included taking fire trucks out of service.
Now, the Fire Union claims the reduced money and cuts would violate union contracts it signed with the city last year.
They also believe it will make the city less safe.
Stothert says her proposal to lay off probationary firefighters, take trucks out of service, and remove several assistant chiefs would only be necessary if the two sides can't come to an agreement.
The mayor adds that the city's legal department says her proposal does not violate any contract and it does not hurt public safety.
The lawsuit also names Fire Chief Mike McDonnell who has been at odds with Mayor Stothert for some time.
Chief McDonnell was the President of the Fire Union before being appointed to Chief in 2008.
Mayor Stothert sat on the city council from 2009 until winning the mayor's race this year.
The tension was clear even back then...when the mayor made it clear she didn't think McDonnell was doing a good job as chief.
Mayor Stothert says she looks forward to being vindicated in court.
As for the budget, it must be approved by September.
The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on it at a public hearing scheduled for next month.
We will update you as this story develops.