Fire dept. report calls for changes worth $12.75M
The Kern County report detailed changes such as purchasing vehicles, firefighter pay and providing services to small cities
By FireRescue1 Staff
KERN COUNTY, Calif. — A county report called for changes in the fire department worth $12.75 million, but the firefighters union said it was designed to rally the public against them before making contract changes.
Bakersfield.com reported that Kern County issued a report in an effort to address a $9.1 million budget gap that details changes needed in the Kern County Fire Department such as the way firefighters are paid, vehicle purchases and providing service to smaller cities and airports.
“We’ve got a budget problem that we would like to continue to address,” County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said, adding that the report is thorough and thoughtful.
The Kern County Fire Fighters Union called the report a tactic to rally the public against the department before they try to change firefighter pay and benefits, and that the budget gap is being dramatically overestimated.
One detail in the report said personnel costs such as overtime and benefits are higher than state and federal laws require, and the cost-saving recommendation is worth around $9.25 million.
“They’re trying to negotiate our contract in public through the audit,” union president Derek Robinson said.
Robinson added that he expects the county to begin contract negotiations soon.
“The Board of Supervisors hears this on Jan. 9. I expect they’ll probably contact us on the 10th,” he said.
“If (Robinson) thinks that the report is an attack on employees I think he needs to remember who’s paying his salary,” Alsop said.