Brooklyn Park Approves Adding Nine Full-Time Firefighters
Brooklyn Park is in the process of doing away with paid-on-call firefighters and going to a department that is strictly full-time.
Cunningham has maintained the model will provide better service. He also said it will improve the diversity within the department.
In an interview with CCX News last spring, Chief John Cunningham said the switch to full-time wouldn’t add any immediate extra costs.
Under the budget the city council approved Dec. 9, the city will add nearly $800,000 to the city’s fire department budget next year. The city says some of the costs are attributed to equipment replacement and existing personnel costs.
But the added costs didn’t appease at least one Brooklyn Park City Council member.
“The way I heard the fire department budget presentation, and the way I still interpret it when it was presented to us in the summer time, is that going with the new model that was voted on was going to be budget-neutral,” Mata said at the Dec. 9 meeting. “It wasn’t all budget neutral. It was different factors in here and in there, which means I felt like I get lied to.”
Mata says in the last few years, the city got rid of 40 paid-on-call firefighters.
“Those are 40 paid-on-call people who would come back at different times based on their full-time job to do something for the city,” said Mata. “I think we need to be careful when we talk about, ‘yay, we gained nine.’ We lost 40.”
The city says they had 21 paid on-call firefighters and hired 11 as part-time firefighters in 2019.
Under Brooklyn Park’s model, firefighters respond to medical calls and are required to receive EMT certification. Some believe the requirement has made it more difficult for Brooklyn Park to find firefighters. It eventually led Brooklyn Park to move toward the full-time model rather than paid on call.
Cunningham says the change to full time will eventually allow the city to man the city’s East Station, which remains unstaffed. Brooklyn Park City Council member Lisa Jacobson says staffing that station is long overdue.
“The fact that we’re going to go almost three years without the East Station for our fire department open,” said Jacobson. “That’s no secret to anyone that that is not a point of happiness for me or the residents that I represent in the East District.”
Median Value Home to See City Tax Decrease
The Brooklyn Park City Council voted Dec. 9 on a $48.7 million property tax levy, a 5.54 percent increase over the 2019 budget.
For the median value home of $247,800, the monthly tax bill is estimated at $99.70. That’s compared to $104.55 in 2019.