What to Know
- City of Newburgh will be laying off at least 14 firefighters and 19 police officers in an effort to balance next year's budget
- Mayor Torrance Harvey says the cuts will prevent bankruptcy but firefighters argue it will put residents' lives at risk
- The city now has 30 days to notify the officers who are being let go
More than two dozen police officers and firefighters in Orange County learned Thursday night that they would lose their jobs as city leaders voted to drastically slash its public safety budget.
City of Newburgh will be laying off at least 14 firefighters and 19 police officers in an effort to balance next year's budget but those against the cuts say the city is putting more than 30,000 residents' lives at risk.
Mayor Torrance Harvey says public safety is the city's number one priority "but we can't allow two departments to bankrupt the city" with more than half of the city's $48 million budget spent on public safety.
The city has been grappling for years to fund their public safety services, even with the help of a federal grant.
Firefighters who gathered outside the budget meeting Thursday night with signs that read "City Unfair to Firefighters" blame the lack of funds on the city's mismanagement.
Nick Pedretti, Vice President of the local 509 union, tells NBC New York that one person will be doing the work of two firefighters and chances of injury will go up.
"The effectiveness of his job goes down and that puts people lives in jeopardy," Pedretti said.
While Mayor Harvey agrees that mismanagement is partly to blame, he says that it's in the rank and file who allow too much overtime. Even with the cuts, the city still meets minimum staffing standards, according to the mayor.
The city now has 30 days to notify the officers who are being let go.
"What am I going to do next? Around here there's not that many fire department jobs," said firefighter Matt kneeter. "So for us to transfer anywhere it's kind of difficult, especially right now with other departments already have their budgets set for the following year."