UPDATED: City of Monroe approves major cuts

MONROE (WTOL) - The City of Monroe is laying off eight firefighters, closing a fire station and privatizing ambulance service.

It's all to fill a $1.1 million hole in the city's budget. Monroe City Council approved the cuts Monday night, April 20.

The public picketed before the meeting and made pleas to council for nearly two hours. Some asked leaders to postpone the vote.

Firefighters are in negotiations and hope to reach a deal to save those jobs.

The changes approved by council are scheduled to take effect July 1. The Monroe News reports an alternate plan may save most of the layoffs. They report Local 326 president Derek Whittaker said after the council meeting that both the city's and the union's most recent counterproposals would reduce fire department staffing by just three and retain ambulance transport services for city residents. Read more.