Leander residents oppose civil service for firefighters

Updated 9:47 p.m. CST

Leander residents voted against the adoption of civil service rules for its firefighters, with 60.6 percent against the measure and 39.4 percent supporting it. A total of 580 votes were cast against the measure.

The Political Action Committee Leander Taxpayers for Responsible Government campaigned against civil service, saying it would be costly for taxpayers and would provide no additional services. PAC Treasurer and Place 5 city council member Jason Dishongh said voters made the right decision for Leander.

"Civil service is not what the city needs at this point. We need to worry about how we can focus on sustainable growth and civil service could possibly set us back on that," he said. "We feel like this is a great opportunity to continue educating our residents about things that will impact our future. Civil service may come back up in the future so we will continue to stay organized and keep residents informed on how it could impact our community."

A total of 377 voters supported civil service for Leander firefighters. Kirke Phillips, president of the Leander Professional Firefighters Association, said the association will continue to mobilize and reach voters.

"We will absolutely get it on the ballot again next May," he said. "The main goal we have is to raise awareness as to what the citizens who voted no were told and how we can show them the truth."

All results are unofficial until canvassed.

Posted 7:58 p.m. CST

Early voting totals show Leander residents opposed the adoption of a civil service code for its city firefighters, with 39.7 percent of votes in favor of the measure and 60.3 percent against. A total of 287 early votes were cast against the measure.

Civil service is a section of local government code that voters can adopt for its police and fire departments with a simple majority.

Civil service rules establish standards for sick and vacation time and for the hiring, firing and promotion of employees. The measure in Leander, which received 189 votes in early voting, related only to firefighters.

City staff estimated civil service will cost the city more than $1 million, which includes administration, additional vacation allowances and paying volunteers. The firefighters association said the cost is closer to $170,000.

Civil service does not allow provisions for volunteers, however both the city and the association have expressed a strong interest in keeping volunteer firefighters.

A repeal of civil service would require approval by 50 percent of registered voters, or more than 7,000 Leander residents.


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