The (San Bernardino County fire department’s proposed fire assessment) increase is to cover a $27.6 million shortfall, not to provide any extra services. SBC Fire wants some of the poorest people in the county to subsidize San Bernardino City area fire protection. Wonder Valley’s $132 increase equates to 661 Top Ramen noodle meals per year and $157.26 equals 779 meals per year.
•A $42-43 million reserve existed in 2014. How did it become a $29 million shortage?
•Fire personnel are overpaid. On publicpay.ca.gov, in 2017, a search of San Bernardino County’s 100 highest paid workers, where the lowest paid is $198,106, shows many medical/legal personnel, 25 firemen and only 12 sheriff personnel on the list (the sheriff is paid just 10 percent more than a fire captain, plus the under-sheriff is paid only about $4,000 more than a fire captain). Why are we paying $198-253K to fire personnel who are required by federal labor laws to sleep for at least six hours per 24 hour shift? $50,000 for sleeping. WOW!
•Blotted pay raise: The 2014-16 firefighter Memorandum of Understanding (contract) was superseded in 2015 with a new 2015-2019 MOU. In it, the basic firefighters saw a one-year 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent COLA raise plus their annual step increase, resulting in a 5 percent to 8.4 percent increase. The captains saw one-year COLA increases of 9.2 percent to 12.3 percent plus their annual increases, resulting in a 12 percent to 14.9 percent increase. The engineers were the biggest gainers, seeing a one-year 10.9 percent to 14.7 percent COLA raise plus annual increase.
CalPERS liabilities/future retirement pay went way up in excess of 12 percent due to these 2015 raises!
•Country contracts with cities? Normal sustaining contracts specify a level of effort (number of man months/man years of effort) with an annual inflation factor applied for future years. FP-5 has a 3 percent inflation factor in it but what factors do the city contracts have? Does giving personnel 14 percent increases result in the county/us eating about a 12 percent cost increase?
•Yucca Valley: Will inferred promises be kept? Twentynine Palms was told the county planned to build a $5 million station around Adobe and Amboy. Never happened! The city purchased a “hotel” ladder truck (for the water-board-managed fire department) that has been gone for at least six months to Apple Valley/Victorville. How much of the 22 percent of Yucca Valley property taxes that go to the fire department and $157.62 from the new assessment will stay here?
•Morongo Basin Ambulance responds faster to calls than SBC Fire in many areas. June’s MBA report to the Twentynine Palms City Council showed that MBA was on scene before SBC Fire 58 percent of the time, concurrently 27 percent and after SBC Fire only 15 percent of time. MBA also supplies a monthly report to the Municipal Advisory Council.
•You can get fire insurance through the state exchange even without a local fire station. A state insurance representative briefed Wonder Valley. If someone cannot get insurance than they can contact the state. An insurance company will be assigned to cover them. WV is already in the most expensive category because it doesn’t have water service, so probably no cost impact.
If the protest fails, will the union get big raises in its new 2019 contract and propose another increase in base and annual growth rate? Protest now!
EDITOR’S NOTE — This soapbox was edited to fit in the 600-word limit and to expand some concepts that were abbreviated.