Pittsburgh facing ‘disastrous’ job cuts, including emergency responders, without pandemic relief

PITTSBURGH — Hundreds of City of Pittsburgh employees, including emergency responders, could lose their jobs without further federal pandemic relief funds, Channel 11′s news exchange partners at TribLIVE reported.

The coronavirus pandemic wiped out a $120 million reserve the city started the year with, according to TribLIVE. That leaves the city with a $25 million deficit.

If more funding isn’t approved by July 1, the city will be forced to make significant cuts.

The cuts would involve laying off more than 600 city employees, including about 200 police officers, more than 150 firefighters and 60 paramedics, TribLIVE reported.

There are 943 people on the force, and cutting 200 police officers “would basically be disastrous,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told council members Thursday during a budget hearing.

To avoid making the cuts, the city needs at least $26 million.

The hope is Congress will approve “between $50 million and $70 million,” Pittsburgh Council Budget Director Bill Urbanic said during the meeting.

If the city doesn’t get the relief and is forced to make the job cuts, Hissrich said it would lead to an increase in crime in the city and delayed response times.

The council is expected to vote on a preliminary budget and then adopt the final plan on Dec. 21.