(04/08/14) - Flint City Hall will be crunching the numbers, trying to figure out ways to operate the fire department without a grant from the federal government.
FEMA has turned down the city's request for another year of funding.
For the past two years, Flint has received millions of dollars through the SAFER grant. This time, Washington said 'no.'
The grant is called the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, or SAFER. If the grant had come through, it would have provided nearly $8 million to fund the fire department.
Without it, the city of Flint could be forced to cut up to 20 positions from the fire department, but Emergency Manager Darnell Earley says it's too early to say how many layoffs there might be or when they might happen.
The fire union says two fire stations could be closed.
Earley said this wasn't completely unexpected, since the city received this grant twice already. He says the city will have to adjust to a smaller budget.
"It was never intended to be a long term financial fix for the fire department, but we're moving on. Obviously, we're going to have to make some adjustments in our organizational structure. We're going to strive to continuously maintain the highest level of quality of fire protection in the City of Flint that we can afford with the revenues we have," Earley said.
ABC12 News has obtained a copy of the letter from FEMA that explains, in part, why the important grant was denied.
The letter says Flint's scores on the application were generally good and above average. However, FEMA says, "We regrettably do not have enough funding to offer you an award at this time."
In the rejection letter, FEMA says it regrets the news could not have been more positive. FEMA received more than 1,500 SAFER applications, requesting more than $1.67 billion in federal assistance.
"There was never any mention in their letter about our financial condition. It was more a matter of it was very competitive and an open competitive process," Earley said.
The city will now evaluate how it can provide safety for a smaller staff of fire fighters and adequately protect residents and business owners.
"We have to look at that before we start talking about how many, who and where," Earley said.
There's no doubt having the grant denied will have a big impact on Flint.
"It's great to have those monies, but obviously when you depend on those and put those as part of the base of your operations, you get situations like this where you're scrambling now, trying to figure out what it's going to look like because you're not going to get that revenue," Earley said.
Eleven Michigan communities will receive SAFER grants this year. Some of them are:
Dryden Township in Lapeer County - $44,000.
Ann Arbor - $427,000.
Ypsilanti - $800,000.
Detroit - $24 million.
The current grant for Flint runs out in June. The city is already facing a nearly $13 million deficit.
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