Published: Apr 07, 2010 4:54 AM EDT

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - The Lehigh Acres Fire Chief says contract talks between the fire district and the firefighters unions have reached an impasse.

The fire district wants firefighters to take a 15% pay cut, drop holiday pay, and contribute to family health plans that the district currently pays for, among other sticking points.

The district's labor attorney says it all comes down to the economy.

"We have less revenue coming into the district than it costs to run the district.  That's the most profound, fundamental, underlying problem here," said attorney John Hament.

The firefighters union would prefer a pay freeze.

But the fire district says they've already had to close one fire station, and reduced active ambulances to two.

"The fire district has used accountants and internal personnel to do projections, and they don't look very good," Hament said.

Now the sides must decide whether to call in a special magistrate to make a recommendation, or go directly to the fire board for a decision.

There are actually two unions in negotiations: a smaller one for supervisors, and the larger union for rank-and-file members.

WINK News was unable to reach anyone from the union for comment Tuesday night.