The Philadelphia Fire Department budget is on the receiving end of City Council scrutiny and has become a point of contention for one councilman in particular.

 

At a council budget hearing Wednesday, Councilman Dennis O'Brien demanded answers from city officials about the disputed cost of the firefighters arbitration.

"The numbers are the numbers.  You've had four years.  You haven't implemented this.  What are the numbers?  We don't have training in the budget; we don't have an appropriate plan for filling vacancies.  We're worried about furloughts which have never happened, that are not going to happen.  We're looking about healthcare costs that we don't have numbers on.  When can we get to the real answer here?" he demanded.

Budget Director Rebecca Rynhart responded to the frustrated councilman.

"You are saying the actual costs, but the arbitration award was not implemented so the costs are not actual.  They are projected," she said.

A bill currently before council would set aside $66 million to cover the projected costs of the settlement.

The Nutter administration is fighting the award, saying it's too costly for the city to absorb in its budget.