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.
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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 [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.