Pekin firefighters are speaking out over staffing levels - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Pekin firefighters are speaking out over staffing levels

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PEKIN, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

Alarms are ringing over rising costs in the City of Pekin that could lead to less firefighters serving the community.  

Firefighters are sending out the call on social media that they need more help because the department of 50 is down two people after a couple of retirements last year. Their union's president said that gaining back those positions would ensure better coverage.

"It's a safety concern. You know, not only for our taxpayers but our members too," said Tom Veatch, Pekin Firefighter's union president. "We're always here. We do our job 100 percent all the time. And we will never stop doing our job, no matter what."

However, the city has not filled those two positions and leaders are pointing to rising costs as they look toward a budget for the next fiscal year. Pekin City Manager, Tony Carson, said since last August the city has maintained 50 staffers on department, but said the issue is not necessarily new.     

"It might sound better to say 'cuts'. We're maintaining the employment levels in the proposed budget," said Carson. 

Carson said the city faces 60 million in pension liabilities for fire and police retirees which is the reason staffing levels in the proposed budget are under consideration.

"They offer great service to our residents. They're going to continue to do a great job. I have confidence in their abilities. We're not short staffing them," said Carson.

The council will take up the issue this coming Monday.

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