With two weeks to go before the council votes on Mayor Jean Stothert’s proposed budget, city officials and fire union leaders have revived discussions about the city’s fire contract.

Talk about the Fire Department’s budget took center stage at Tuesday evening’s public hearing, where President Steve LeClair said the layoffs and other cuts forced by the mayor’s $90.6 million budget should be a concern to Omahans. Fire Chief Mike McDonnell has recently told council members he thinks cuts could be avoiding by changing the contract.

Meanwhile, council members heard feedback Tuesday on separate proposed change: the end of the city’s office of sustainable development.

Stothert is looking to close the office, which was funded with federal stimulus grants and opened by former Mayor Jim Suttle. It aimed to promote efforts that would improve energy efficiency, including the reEnergize program, which had struggled to meet its goals.

Supporters of the program told the council that the office is important to Omaha.

“My view, that regional view, is that Omaha loses when it doesn’t have a sustainability office,” said Rick Yoder, a sustainability coordinator for the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s business school. “It loses to other communities in the region.”

The council is scheduled to adopt a 2014 budget at its Aug. 27 meeting.

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