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Chief Dekker responds to CBS13 Website article

By From page A10 | February 24, 2012

In what he calls “slandering his name,” Garden Valley Fire Chief Bill Dekker commented last Friday on an article that appeared on the CBS13 Website. The lead states, “El Dorado County’s auditor (Joe Harn) says a fire chief’s 10-year, $1 million contract is an outrage.”

But perhaps the question should be, “Why did Mr. Harn not come to my fire board meeting,” said Dekker. “Why did he go directly to Channel 13?”

The contract in question was approved in October 2010 and is now in its second year. Dekker said his contract was approved to provide a “level playing field” in the event Georgetown and Garden Valley were to consolidate. Georgetown fire board had already approved Chief Greg Schwab’s 10-year contract prior to Dekker’s. Both are very similar in that each has a 60-day termination clause with a unanimous vote of the five board members.

“This is about us fighting Ron Briggs (on consolidation),” said Dekker, who took over as fire chief in 2007. No stranger to consolidation, Dekker was the new chief after consolidation of seven departments in Idaho.

“(In consolidated districts) you hire a new chief,” said Dekker. “It’s a whole new organization and policies. That way nobody owes allegiance to any one person.

“I am 100 percent behind consolidation,” said Dekker, “but I have stated time and time again that I don’t want to be the chief; I would step down.”

Even with what Harn says is $1 million over 10 years (before benefits, Dekker’s salary is $86,000/year — $118,135 with benefits), Garden Valley’s fire chief is still the lowest paid in El Dorado County.

Before benefits, other chiefs in El Dorado Hills ($233,000), El Dorado County Fire, Cool ($166,000), Diamond Springs ($131,000), and Georgetown ($95,000) make far more than Dekker.

Citing Dekker’s “contract” as the reason consolidation failed was just “political fodder,” according to retired Georgetown Fire Chief Rick Todd. (See Todd’s letter in the Wenesday MountainDemocrat for more.)

Rebecca Murphy

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