I am responding to Kevin Romick’s request for input as requested in the Jan. 13 edition of The Press.
I believe that the Grand Jury report is spot-on as it relates to our fire protection services and required funding that they are asking for from we the people; i.e., the fire protection services’ employer. We the people need to realize that we are their employers. This being said, the following questions need to be asked of our employees:
1. As Kevin’s employer, issue should be taken with his comments in the Jan. 6 Press, and I quote: “These numbers weren’t just pulled out of the sky.” The fact is: two different consulting companies have informed the board at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars to us the employer that anything over $200 per parcel will not pass muster with the employers of the fire district.
This is where the number comes from, and is a matter of public record. If more money is what you want, let’s start being honest about what is really needed, as the Grand Jury has come forward and done.
2. Information has been given to our employees (the fire district) as it relates to alternative funding for “the district” that it refuses to explore. There are companies that specialize in privatization of fire districts. There was USDA money available to help subsidize “the district” last year.
Both options fell on deaf ears last year. Our employees remained focused on removing more funding from we the employer instead of alternatives that would have saved the employer money.
3. Our employees continue to spend money recklessly. How much did those brand-new F350 pickups cost us the employer? $60-70-80,000, fully equipped with lights, radios and labeling. Our employees then complain we do not have money to fix equipment.
The cost savings between building the new Oakley fire station and not building it has never been explained. Why would you spend money in Oakley and complain that the Bethel Island station is a disaster?
4. You tell your employer that you need more money but do not want to fully divulge what the funds are for. The case in point: when asked about salary and benefits for rank and file, the comment is: we cannot tell you because we are in negotiations.
Are you serious? You want money but you do not want to tell your employer how it is to be spent, even in general terms. This is not a good business model. By the way, if you are exceeding 50 percent of your operational budget in labor and benefits, you are in trouble. The issue is not to increase costs but to cut them and live within your means.
5. There are other communities in the Bay Area that have adjusted to current economic circumstance and not burden their employers further. The City of Pacifica has decided to reduce the crews of its vehicles from three to two. They have also combined services with Daly City. Why have our employees, “the district,” not looked into what is working for them?
6. To not have a sunset clause on the increase is insulting. At some point in the future, we all know the market will return in this area. Not only will our employees have the benefit of the parcel tax but will also have the increased revenue once property taxes regain where they once were. Is it fair for our employees to remove every dollar they can from their employer?
Jonathan Silver, Discovery Bay