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Council expected to approve FEMA grant to save fireighters

The City Council will consider accepting a nearly $4.6 million federal grant to preserve 26 Portland firefighter position on Wednesday.

Portland Fire & Rescue applied for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant when the council tentatively approved laying off the firefighters to save money during this year's budget process. FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants are intended to allow local governments to avoid laying off firefighters because of budget cuts.

The grant would fund the positions for two years. It includes around $3,739,164 for salaries and $815,230 for fringe benefits.

The council approved the cut as part of a series of reductions intended to clause a projected $25 million general fund shortfall. Since then the city has revised its revenue estimates and now predicts an ongoing $5.9 million annual surplus because of the improving economy and debt reductions.

The grant request was supported by the union representing Portland firefighters. There is not expected to be any opposition on the council.