Austin Firefighters Association opposes Proposal A
AUSTIN, TX – The Austin Firefighters Association is the latest organization to oppose Proposition A, a November ballot measure that would increase the number of officers in the Austin Police Department.
If passed, the ballot initiative would force the city to immediately hire around 500 new police officers, which would impact the budgets of other city departments, particularly Austin Fire.
Austin Firefighters Association president Bob Nicks said on Friday that Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak was trying to “manipulate” the association’s voting process.
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Register Austin Now, a local political action committee, lobbied for the proposal in August, citing that crime has increased since the city “started funding the police department in 2019”.
The PAC also lobbied for Proposal B, which targets the city’s homeless, in May. The proposal was passed by a majority of county voters on May 1.
The AFA’s statement on Friday is in response to the PAC’s latest argument in a open letter thursdaywhich indicates that the city can afford the Prop A and that it will not affect the budget of Austin Fire.
“Firefighters love and support our cops, but make no mistake about it,” Nicks said. “The Austin Police Department has the funds available to hire 229-300 police officers today… They have a hiring problem, not a funding problem. We suggest they hire more officers as soon as that happens. possible.”
According to Austin’s 2021-2022 fiscal year budget, about $ 1.1 billion (2/3 of the city’s budget) will go to public safety. Police will receive $ 360.8 million (the most funds), firefighters will receive $ 192.3 million, and ATCEMS will receive $ 75.5 million.
In total, the three departments represent $ 628.6 million, or about 57% of the total security budget.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler released a statement Friday in support of the Austin Fire Association’s decision to oppose the Nov. 2 ballot proposal.
“We appreciate the Austin Firefighters Association’s willingness to shoot directly with Austin residents on the true cost of Proposition A,” Adler said. “If passed, it would result in budget cuts to municipal services like parks and swimming pools and stations like firefighters, paramedics and mental health workers. We know this was a difficult and very unusual endorsement for the Austin Firefighters Association, and we applaud their objective approach to this election. ”
No path on prop A, a counter-campaign launched in August, said on Friday that the firefighters’ association had taken a “bold and necessary stance and was even spending money on defeating Proposition A.”
“The Austin Fire Association knows that prop A will make it harder for Austinites to stay safe, and that is why the association is opposed to this dangerous measure,” said Carol Guthrie, branch business manager. AFSCME local 1624. “Prop A would force the city to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to hire up to 885 additional agents without any liability, forcing cuts to essential services and city employees like firefighters, EMS and healthcare. mental health by diverting their funding to the police. ”