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KALISPELL — The City of Kalispell plans to lay off seven of its 30 firefighters, beginning on May 15, after an arbitrator approved a new three-year contract.

City Manager Jane Howington notified the local firefighters' union of the layoffs Tuesday in a letter to union president Kirk Pederson. She says the city can't meet the financial terms of the new contract without layoffs.

The layoffs follow an arbitration ruling that favored firefighters and led to a contract that Howington says will cost the city an extra $690,000 over the three years. Firefighters argue the costs aren't that high.

Howington's letter says the city will meet with the union on April 13 to discuss ways to mitigate the layoffs. The union requested the meeting.

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