AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Firefighters Association held a press conference Friday to announce that it has voted to oppose Proposition A on the upcoming November ballot and will dedicate funds to fight the measure.
Opponents of Prop A say that it would force cuts to the Austin Fire Department, EMS, 911 call takers, mental health care and more in order to increase Austin police staffing.
“We appreciate the Austin Firefighters Association’s willingness to shoot straight with the residents of Austin about the true cost of Proposition A,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “If passed, it would lead to budget cuts to city services like parks and pools and positions like firefighters, paramedics, and mental health care responders. We know this was a difficult and highly unusual endorsement for the Austin Firefighters Association to make, and we applaud their objective approach to this election.”
“The Austin Firefighters Association knows Prop A will make it harder to keep Austinites safe, and that’s why the association is opposing this dangerous measure,” said Carol Guthrie, business manager of AFSCME Local 1624. “Prop A would force the City to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to hire up to 885 more officers with zero accountability, forcing cuts to essential services and City employees like Fire, EMS and mental health care by diverting their funding to the police department.”
The association held a special membership meeting on Sept. 20 to learn more about the potential impacts of the proposition. They heard invited speakers from both sides of the police staffing issue, including:
Speakers for Prop A:
- Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association
- Matt Mackowiak, Travis County Republican Party chair and co-chair of Save Austin Now (Save Austin Now is the group promoting Prop A)
- Cleo Petricek, Co-chair of Save Austin Now
Speakers against Prop A:
- Bill Spellman, former Austin City Council member and published expert on policing
- Carol Guthrie, Representative from AFSCME, the City of Austin Employee’s Association
The EMS Association representing City of Austin Emergency Medical Services joined the Austin Firefighters Association and AFSCME L 1624 in opposing Prop A.
“Austin EMS Association fears that Prop A will create an irreversible escalation of police costs that will cannibalize Austin’s EMS and other city services for many years to come,” said Selena Xie, President of EMS Association. “We are asking Austin voters to look past the divisive politics that have intensified the conversation around Prop A and simply consider its implications for sound fiscal management of our City. Please vote no on Prop A.”
“Austin Firefighters urge you to vote NO on Prop A. Firefighters love and respect our Austin Police Officers, but the Austin Police Department is, currently, fully re-funded with $10 million more in their budget than ever before,” said Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks. “APD has a hiring problem NOT a funding problem and can hire 300 additional Police Officers now under their current historically high budget. Prop A solves NONE of the problems that exist within APD today. Prop A is a poorly written law and will shift at least $75 Million from the Fire and EMS budgets, as well as other essential City services. Please vote NO on Prop A.”
According to a sample ballot from the Travis County Clerk's Office, the ballot language for Prop A will be:
"Shall a petitioned ordinance be approved to enhance public safety and police oversight, transparency and accountability by adding new chapter 2-16 to establish minimum standards for the police department to ensure effective public safety and protect residents and visitors to Austin, and prescribing minimal requirements for achieving the same, at an estimated cost of $271.5 million - $598.8 million over five years?"
To learn more about the Save Austin Now PAC's efforts in getting the proposition passed, click here.
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