Mayor shuns demotions plan


Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has decided not to go along with a city Fire Department proposal to reduce in rank some 23 fire officers as a budget-cutting measure.

Clint Coleman, Schmoke's press aide, said yesterday the mayor was told by his budget director, Edward J. Gallagher, that $1.2 million in Fire Department budget savings ordered for fiscal year 1992 could be accomplished through attrition and reorganization.

Coleman said he did not have any details on the plan Gallagher outlined to the mayor. He did note that last week during a bill-signing ceremony the mayor indicated he thought the Fire Department was top-heavy with administrative positions.

Gallagher could not be reached for comment last night.

"The proposal to make the demotions, remember, was not one that came from the mayor, but was recommended to him by the fire chief," said Coleman.

Fire Chief Peter J. O'Connor told the City Council last week that he recommended the reduction in rank because his department could not predict the attrition rate for the next fiscal year with enough accuracy to ensure $1.2 million in savings.

The chief told the council that fire personnel who were thinking of retiring in the coming fiscal year have put their plans on hold. They are waiting the outcome of discussions between the Schmoke administration and fire unions over a union proposal to add incentive benefits for early retirement.

Sworn personnel in the Fire and Police Pension System can now retire after 22 years of service.

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