Monday, April 21, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

EDC Fire to reorganize admin office

By
From page A1 | November 27, 2013 | 9 Comments

An administrative reorganization of the district office was approved by the board of El Dorado County Fire Protection District at its Nov. 21 meeting.

Recommended by Chief Mike Hardy, the chief prefaced his remarks by noting that in the face of spiraling costs and declining revenue, the district had taken a number of measures to cut costs, including reducing the number of chief officers and negotiating concessions from the union to increase what members pay for retirement and health care.

He recommended that further administrative cost savings could be had by eliminating certain positions, beginning with the information technician. Saying the district never needed a full-time person in that position, Hardy proposed instead to outsource the function to a contractor.

The position of accounting technician was also eliminated with Hardy noting that while the person in that position was responsible for all district budget and accounting work, there was never any requirement the individual have an accounting background.

That fact may have contributed to several sizeable financial mistakes, totaling almost $713,000, being made in addition to almost $700,000 in funds improperly moved between accounts. Currently the position is vacant as the person who previously held the job is on leave. Instead, Hardy proposed having CPA Michael Ocenosak of Terrie Prod’hon handle those fiscal duties.

When questioned what Ocenosak is costing the district, Hardy said they are paying him, on average, under $1,000 a month.

The salary range for the accounting technician was $49,982 to $61,172.

Hardy also recommended reducing the hours of the office receptionist from 40 to 24 hours a week, saying a full-time employee was not needed.

To handle some of the administrative duties of the accounting technician plus board duties, Hardy proposed establishing a position of administrative aide/board clerk. An existing employee has already been performing these duties, he said, and would be permanently assigned to the position.

Hardy estimated the cost savings of all these measures at $140,000, not including the cost of outsourcing IT services.

In other actions, the board held a first hearing of the updated 2013 California Fire Code. A second public hearing will be held next month before it is voted on by the fire board. It will then go to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors for ratification and last to the California Building Standards Commission where it will be filed and go into effect.

The board also voted in support of a resolution drafted by the Fire Advisory Committee. The resolution supports action taken by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors at its Sept. 24 meeting to approve a two-year, $1.7 million fiscal patch to assist rural fire districts until a permanent solution to funding can be found.

Hardy said the same resolution was being presented to the boards of all the fire districts and although it doesn’t commit them to do anything specific, it does obligate them to participate in developing a long-term solution to their revenue problems.

Hardy added that Supervisor Ron Briggs and other supervisors are frustrated with the fire districts coming again to the county for a handout. They are willing to go along for now, but if the districts don’t get their act together, cut costs and identify revenue streams, they are going to be in trouble, he said.

Noting that EDCFPD wasn’t one of those looking for a fiscal patch, Director Mark Johnson commented that, in fact, the district hadn’t received any aid to fire money since 1991. But without county money, many of the other districts may go back to a fire chief and volunteers because they don’t have the money for professional firefighters, he said.

Hardy suggested that one option might be changing the percentage of property tax revenue that each district receives. However, the Board of Supervisors wants the fire districts to come up with solutions rather than do it for them, he said.

Related to that discussion was a report by Hardy on meetings of a revenue search committee. The district is looking at all aspects of increasing revenue, said Hardy, including benefit assessments, special taxes and potentially collecting a fee for different services performed. “We’re going to throw everything on the wall and see what sticks, along with cost-saving measures,” he said.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or dhodson@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 9 comments

  • George B.November 27, 2013 - 7:07 am

    Nice try Hardy, ECF doesn't qualify for assistance from the county otherwise you would be asking for money too and if it wasn't for the Placerville and Red Hawk contract your agency would be flat bankrupt. So pat yourself on the back for no hand out.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Watch DogNovember 27, 2013 - 8:50 am

    Wow, can't believe that EDC Fire is discussing the possibility of raising taxes on the residents of the district. This fire district has squandered the tax payers money. They gave 35% plus in raises to the personnel over a four year period when revenues were in the toilet due to the housing market. They pushed people out of jobs giving them "golden handshakes". The residents of Shingle Springs should be concerned over the benefit assessment they are paying for the Station 28 rebuild. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were used to close the huge deficit that the fire district didn't know they had??? The district will not have enough funds to pay of the 30 year loan they took out on the St. 28 rebuild. They will be on the hook for approximately 1 million when the assessment ends in 2017. I would not give this district one more cent than they are getting now. They do not have the talent to handle money. They have done nothing operationally to save money. This district is going down fast, does anyone care? One more thing; how can you eliminate a position when the person is out on leave? I smell a lawsuit coming.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tired of wasted moneyNovember 27, 2013 - 12:22 pm

    One of the problems in this county is that all of the fire districts are unionized. Up until the Unions got involved the districts had Voulenteer and paid staff that both met the same NFPA standards of qualifications and training. Once the Union became involved the paid staff was then called Professional Firefighters and the rest just Voulenteers. The biggest difference? Voulenteers show up at calls after hours and on holidays and weekends 365 days a year. Professional firefighters only show up when they are paid to be there. Maybe someone should look at that angle of the cost for the districts? We pay a Cal fire fee plus taxes for coverage and all the fire districts want even more??? Enough is Enough, fighting fire is not rocket science...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimBoNovember 27, 2013 - 12:39 pm

    Oh, now you're making too much common sense.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimBoNovember 27, 2013 - 12:40 pm

    Hint: The person on the Board of Supervisors with a $197,000 a year Fireman's pension is not the right person to unravel and solve the County's Fire District problems and tax pie redistribution.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TataNovember 27, 2013 - 5:42 pm

    Since I have worked with and have knowledge of fire service funding, I felt I needed to try and provide some history and information concerning the subject. First, it’s necessary for us to look at history of state/local funding. A number of years ago property taxes were strictly for the local county, city, special districts, etc. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the exact date, the economy was bad, the state was having financial trouble, especially with regard to school funding. The State stepped in and took local property taxes from local government and special districts in order to fund schools. This offset included fire districts. There were very few limited exemptions, and one of those exemptions was if your district services crossed county lines. There is only one district in the county that met that criteria, El Dorado Hills. So every fire district had it’s revenue (income) cut. A short time later the voters of the State passed I believe it was Prop 192, which was ½ a cent sales that was to be used to offset the cuts for public safety, Police, Fire, Marshalls, Conbstables, etc. Although I haven’t checked the figures recently as 9 or 10 years ago, this was over $9,000,000.00 a year.. The BOS chose to use this entire amount to offset law enforcement costs. Law Enforcement funding comes mostly from the General Fund, which is the fund the BOS has control over. So if one member of the BOS has a pet project the money would most likely come from this fund. Fire service cuts were left unfunded, despite the passage of the proposition. The Board of Supervisors also pulled the “aid to fire” funding. To add insult to injury, when the county negotiated with the Casino, the money was put into “public safety”, ie the general fund for law enforcement. There was no discussion to help offset the county ambulance services costs either, other than a half time ambulance and if memory serves me 1 staff person for County Fire. I don’t know what the current run figures are for the ambulance, but I’d bet it’s more than a half time ambulance, and no additional money was sought to cover other costs associated with the ambulance. In effect, every taxpayer is likely subsidizing ambulance service for the Casino, and other as are surrounding fire districts. As far as the “supervisor with the retirement”, that individual probably is one of the most knowledgeable fire funding people in the County, and he has worked hard to try to address this and other fire service issues. He is definitely an asset to the county and to the BOS. One other thing, until recently not all fire districts were “union” shops. As far as the paid personnel only show up when they are paid is NOT always the case, it depends on the district. The Cal Fire Fees have nothing to do with the local fire districts, again the “State” comes in and takes what they want. Local districts fought this also, to no avail. The state legislators alone are responsible for this. To answer your thoughts, no I am not, nor have I ever been a professional fire fighter, no I am not, nor have I ever been a volunteer fire fighter, no I am not, nor have I ever been an employee of any fire district, I am not, nor have I ever been the wife of a fire fighter, no I am not, nor have I ever been any relation to any member of the BOS. I’m familiar with the County Fire issues, and I am not going to discuss my thoughts on their situation, however, not all fire districts in this county have made some of the decisions they have made. The loss of funding, the economy, and the lack of offsetting cuts have had tremendous affect on all special districts, so please don’t paint them all with one brush. And no fire fighting is not rocket science, it would be a lot easier if it was, rocket science is planned and controlled, not subject to the wims of humans or mother nature.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • So others may live>>>November 27, 2013 - 11:46 pm

    wow.. well said and stated.... I hope people take the time to read this and understand...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tax PayerNovember 28, 2013 - 8:44 pm

    Tata, with all due respect,what does anything you said have to do with the financial crisis that EDC Fire is facing? From fiscal year 1999 to now, the county has provided millions in property tax augmentations to eight districts. They include Garden Valley, Georgetown, Latrobe, Mosquito, Pioneer and Rescue on the western slope, and Fallen Leaf and Meeks Bay in the Lake Tahoe area. Your lengthy writings apply to these districts, not EDC Fire. Never in the history of the augmentation funding has EDC Fire been a recipient of those funds. EDC Fire is broke, they have no money in reserves. They overspent their budget for three years to the tune of a million dollars each year. They spent more than they were getting in revenues. They drained their reserves, they gave raises during the downturn in property taxes. Nobody ever looked at the books. They hired people who had no clue when it came to budgets. The administration is not doing the right thing, nor is the board. They needed to make changes 4 to 5 years ago. They took on a 30 year 2.5 million dollar loan for the ST28 rebuild. they have been collecting a benefit assessment for this rebuild since 06/07, however they did not put those funds in a special account until 2010. Since that time, nothing more has gone into the special fund. They have put it all in the general fund. Over $600,000 was swallowed up in their deficit of 1.6 million. They will be on the hook for over a million dollars plus on the back side of the loan when the assessment ends in 2017. They lied to the Shingle Springs taxpayers. They told these residents that the station would be paid off in 10 years. On top of all of this, the district did not pay the JPA for loaned labor for years. Stupid. Cal Fire turning down the District for an RFP should have been a wake up call to everyone. It is because EDC Fire is going down. Oh but wait, they want the tax payers to pay more...NO NO NO...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TataNovember 29, 2013 - 3:29 pm

    I fully understand what you are saying and support most of your comments. I deliberately chose not to address County Fire, I am painfully aware County fire is broke, the only thing keeping their doors open is ‘”Teeter Money”. If the County for whatever reason ceases to allow the district to “Teeter” they will have to close the doors, they do not have enough assets stay open. The District is going further into debt with each payroll and bill paid. I have “a lot” of questions that I prefer not to publish in this letter. However, your statement about the county providing millions in property tax augmentations to eight districts is not entirely correct. I know who the districts that aid to fire assisted, and obviously the history, however, it doesn’t change the fact the BOS had excellent data regarding this need and they chose to stop all aid to fire, and have not made any attempt to fund the cuts I referenced, despite the Prop 192 sales tax vote. There is a lot of other history I once again will choose not to elicit in this response. I felt it necessary to provide information that applies to not only local fire districts, but all special districts that have been impacted through the years. In my letter there is a statement that not all of the districts have made the same decisions as County Fire thank goodness. It is too easy in this day and age to paint all with one brush when there are folks out there working very had to maintain the services we have.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    News

    Air quality rating up in the air

    By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

     
    GDPUD: Budget and GM are top topics

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

    Mountain lion seen in Placerville

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

     
    CTE a pathway to higher wages, higher-demand jobs

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

     
    Heard over the back fence: Earth Day at the library

    By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

    New top 10 fugitive could be in area

    By News Release | From Page: A3

     
    Community Action Council seeks new member

    By Health and Human Services Agency | From Page: A3

    Rattlesnake Avoidance Clinics May 3-4

    By Hangtown Kennel | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Opinion

    Retain Joe Harn as auditor

    By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 10 Comments

     
    Belltower: El Niño or el nada?

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    The balancing act: Save the whales

    By Larry Weitzman | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Letters

    Tell the truth, don’t confuse voters

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

     
    Local petitions circulating

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 6 Comments

    Chess club

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

     
    True Christian

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    .

    Sports

    Sports Scene: April 20, 2014

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

     
    All Star team shows competive balance

    By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A6

    Australian rugby team visits Cameron park

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    Roundup: Cougars drop finale

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

    Red hot Rico Abreu blazes to victory

    By Gary Thomas | From Page: A6

     
    Schedule: April 21-26, 2014

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

    Rains to present at AMA conference

    By David Albee | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Prospecting

    As we were: Supervisors can’t decide

    By Ken Deibert | From Page: B2

     
    Spend time in River City

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Help with healthcare decisions

    By Snowline Hospice Thrift Stores | From Page: B3

    Time to enter El Dorado County Fair

    By El Dorado County Fair | From Page: B3

     
    Cantare Chorale seeks new director

    By Cantare Chorale | From Page: B3

    Volunteers needed for day of service

    By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B10

     
    .

    Essentials

    Lake levels 4-17-14

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

     
    DUI Log: Feb. 28-April 3

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

    .

    Obituaries

    Dianne Johnson

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

     
    Michael R. Sponsler

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

    Daniel Bish Sr. funeral notice

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

     
    .

    Real Estate

    .

    Comics

    Horoscope, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

     
    Horoscope, Monday, April 21, 2014

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

    TV Listings

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

     
    Speed Bump

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

    Shoe

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

     
    Sudoku

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

    Rubes

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

     
    American Profile Crossword

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

    Tundra

    By Contributor | From Page: A8

     
    New York Times Crossword

    By Contributor | From Page: A8