Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Fire district settles with former chief

By
From page A1 | April 22, 2013 | 5 Comments

At the board meeting of the El Dorado County Fire Protection District (EDCFPD) on April 18, Acting Fire Chief Mike Hardy reported that former Chief Bruce Lacher was now officially retired and they had reached a final settlement with him including dismissal of his worker’s compensation case.

The terms of the agreement described Lacher as officially retired on or before April 4. All of the sick leave and vacation leave used by him during the period Sept. 17, 2012 through April 4, 2013 was restored to him. That amounted to 792 hours of sick leave and 288 hours of vacation restored. The maximum payoff for vacation leave was limited to 520 hours.

The district also agreed to provide Lacher with the identical retirement health benefits and premium contributions provided to chief officers who retired in Dec. 2012: “District paid PERS health care Family Plan; Employee and 2+ dependents.”

The district agreed to indemnify Lacher from any and all claims, losses, or damage arising from the discharge of his duties. Lacher in turn waived any and all workers’ compensation claims against the district for injury to his psyche or emotional distress contingent upon approval of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

In other actions taken at the board meeting, Hardy reported that because the district is facing its fifth year of declining revenue and a structural budget deficit, a Request For Proposal (RFP) was sent to Cal Fire asking it what it would cost it to run the district.

Hardy noted the district’s current year’s budget is $10.6 million including $1.5 million in reserves/encumbrances, $7.2 million in secured and unsecured property tax and $514,945 from direct assessment. The remaining $1.2 million comes from federal/state reimbursement, plan check and permit fees, ambulance administrative fees, and other sources. Salaries and benefits account for 83 percent of all district expenses, with the average cost per employee being almost $106,000.

Cal Fire is being asked to bid on providing All-Risk Community Emergency Response Services including 2-0 staffing with at least one certified paramedic on four El Dorado County Emergency Services Authority Paramedic Units.

In addition the RFP asked the cost of Cal Fire assuming responsibility for delivery of fire protection services from seven existing district fire stations under three different staffing scenarios: 1) current staffing level of 2-0 for six stations and 3-0 staffing for the seventh (Engine 28), four chief officers and four administrative personnel; 2) staffing level of 3-0 for stations 17, 25 and 28 and 2-0 for the remaining four stations, four chief officers and four administrative personnel; and 3) staffing level of 3-0 for all seven stations currently staffed by EDCFPD personnel, four chief officers and four administrative personnel.

Hardy said Cal Fire has 120 days to respond to the proposal. Once the board receives it, the board will make the final decision whether to pursue it or not. Hardy said Cal Fire is currently receiving RFP’s from fire districts from throughout the state.

The board also voted to adopt a preliminary budget of $10.6 million for the El Dorado County Emergency Services Authority (JPA) for the coming year. Hardy reported that the JPA is facing a possible deficit of $1 million in the next fiscal year.

The board approved using most of a $30,600 tribal gaming grant to purchase an ATV and slip on fire unit for parking structure incidents related to tribal casinos or rancherias.

Hardy said LAFCO gave a presentation that examined the possibility of consolidating all the fire districts in the county but said it did not appear to be a viable option when so many districts are hurting for funding. He thought a partial consolidation was one option although while improving efficiency, it would not necessarily save money.

Last, Hardy reported that looking for a solution to the revenue shortfall of many fire agencies, the League of Fire Boards recently made a plea to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors for a share of Proposition 172 money or of revenue from other sources. He said the Board of Supervisors is sympathetic but not willing to make a commitment at this time.

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

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

  • 1036-FrankApril 21, 2013 - 9:26 am

    How many public officials in this county do we have to pay to go away? Break out the public cash register and dole it out every time they should of been fired is an old pattern in this county in too many departments to recall, but in public safety is has been a standard way to operate. If bad conduct is discovered, give them their huge retirement and giant cash bonus for accrued time and hope they go away is a pathetic way to hold anyone to account, but it is an old pattern. Why not fire him if what was reported was true? Maybe the state should take over all public safety in the county if corruption is so rampant that there is no confidence the problem has been addressed in any way.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • EvelynApril 21, 2013 - 12:10 pm

    "Lacher in turn waived any and all workers’ compensation claims against the district for injury to his psyche or emotional distress ... ." (Are firemen so fragile?)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • WilsonApril 22, 2013 - 6:14 am

    I'm curious how someone so persistent he was injured on the job (emotionally) can just change his mind when he gets a settlement. Do you think he would have dropped his work comp charge for a broken back if he recieved a settlement? It's easier to pay because they can't afford legal fees...wow!!! Folks, does something scream "foul" when a sworn public official can drop a work comp case for $$$$$???? Especially when that sworn public official is in charge of what he's stressed about....ridiculous! All these articles about the fire depts in our area make me sick! Pull your heads out management and work together for the greater good! Why is there 13+ fire dept in el dorado county...because we have 13+ chiefs all needing a healthy retirement and "settlements!" Speak up tax payers!!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CrabbyApril 22, 2013 - 7:06 am

    All roads lead to the money. The cuts in funding are threatening the status quo system of the fire fighters. Big pensions, urban level compensation and power at local levels with building standards results in the most powerful, unelected agency regardless what the anti-SACOG crowd laments. CalFire's outsourced presence in the south county almost broke the Pioneer Fire District. There is NOTHING that CalFire can offer, propose or bid on that will cost less. Nothing. Evidently Cameron Park is flush with cash to keep extending their agreement. @1036-Frank must have forgotten to take his meds to suggest a state level solution. Of course he is a pension taker, but never fails to complain about the expense. Bottom line, money implies power and these larger entities must shrink and flatten. EDH has too many fire stations supporting too few calls. The truly rural fire districts have little to no wiggle room. Much of this problem is about too many chiefs and not enough indians...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • 1036-FrankApril 22, 2013 - 7:41 am

    There are only a few ways to go to clean this mess up and get the problem under control. The county is either going to have to form one large EMS department and eliminate many "Chief" Asst. Chief, Deputy Chief, Wanna Be Chief, Used to be Chief and Might be Chief positions and start over with a centralized system with a very small supervisory staff to bring costs down or explore other options. I have no idea how Calfire operates, good or bad, other then they are being paid a tremendous fire tax now for rural fire services and their stations are in place in North and South areas of the county. Bids and reorganization are the two realities coming.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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