Posted by Allentown Area News.
Councilwoman Jeanette Eichenwald proposes adding four paramedics and two solid waste maintenance workers to the city's $89.3 million budget.
An Allentown councilwoman has proposed adding four paramedics and two solid waste maintenance worker positions to the 2014 proposed $89.3 million budget.
Jeanette Eichenwald said the jobs are necessary to deal with the influx of downtown development, which is expected to bring thousands of new jobs to the city.
“The concern is will the present ambulance system be able to handle all the additional people being brought to the city and all the events coming to the hockey area?” Eichenwald said.
The paramedics will cost about $300,000, while the sewer maintenance workers will cost $120,000.
That would come from the city’s fund balance, which was recently replenished with millions of dollars by the $211.3 million lease of Allentown’s water and sewer systems.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski was not immediately available for comment Friday evening.
City council will meet Tuesday to discuss Pawlowki’s proposed budget, which comes with no property tax increase, and reduces the earned income tax slightly from 0.35 percent to 0.33 percent.
Allentown EMS currently has 24 paramedics. Eichenwald, a frequent critic of the mayor, said they had sought four more when the budget was being drafted but that Pawlowski opted not to include them.
Allentown EMS Operations Manager Bryan Fritz was not immediately available for comment.
Allentown EMS was a hot-button issue during the 2011 budget process, when Pawlowski sought to change the squad to one comprised of paramedics and EMTs rather than only paramedics.
Council members have proposed other budget amendments, but none are as expensive as Eichenwald’s, nor are they likely to be as much of a sticking point with the mayor.
Among the amendments are an additional $2,000 for crossing guard uniforms, $3,500 for fire helmets and $10,000 for the city’s gun buyback program.
Councilman Peter Schweyer also proposed adding a $1 placeholder to the budget to eventually restore the police community relations officer, a position that is currently vacant.
Council members Schweyer, Julio Guridy and Joe Davis have also proposed adding a codes coordinator to the budget — at a cost of $76,058 — to start the process of cleaning up and restructuring city codes.
That process has long been discussed, as city residents who have looked up ordinances on the city website have complained that it is confusing and cumbersome. Guridy said it will be a long process to restructure them.
“It’s not going to happen right away,” he said. “It’ll probably take at least a year to do it,”
Contact Allentown reporter Colin McEvoy at 484-894-2549 or email@example.com.