Spokane firefighter retires to help cover budget shortfall - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane firefighter retires to help cover budget shortfall

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Battalion Chief Mike Inman, a firefighter since 1976, is retiring to help other firefighters keep their jobs Battalion Chief Mike Inman, a firefighter since 1976, is retiring to help other firefighters keep their jobs
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SPOKANE, Wash. - The City of Spokane has taken another step toward meeting its 2010 budget and saving firefighters' jobs after Spokane Firefighters set up a salary reduction and early retirement plan.

Early this year, the City identified a $7 million shortfall in its General Fund budget for 2010, largely because of the national economic recession. The City had asked its employee groups to participate in solving half the shortfall.

The salary reduction and early retirement plan is in addition to a 'high-deductible' medical plan the firefighters are already adopting.

The medical plan is expected to save more than $300,000 and the salary reduction and early retirement plan is expected to save $750,000 in its first year and several hundred thousand dollars in the years to come.

Battalion Chief Mike Inman knows all too well what's it's like to be on the chopping block. When Inman started with the department in 1976, he was just a year in when layoff's and station closures hit.

"Some guys retired and it kept me from being laid off," said Inman. "I was very appreciative of those guys doing that."

Inman, who had been tossing around the idea of retiring, says the cuts needed to save the jobs of other firefighters were an incentive for him to make the decision to retire.

In July, Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer estimated about 15 firefighters would have to be cut and a fire station may face closure to account for $1.3 million. Those cuts may not have to happen now thanks to the 'high-deductible' medical plan and the salary reduction and early retirement plan.

There are two caveats to the plan. The department needs to find at least 19 more firefighters like Inman who are willing to retire and the plan has to be approved by City Council.

The Police Lieutenants and Captains Association earlier agreed to suspend City contributions to their deferred compensation accounts to meet their savings goal, saving nearly $62,000. The Spokane Police Guild does not have a plan as of yet.

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