The El Dorado County Fire Protection District’s board named Michael Hardy as fire chief at its June 20 meeting.
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Hardy has been acting as interim chief since the resignation of Chief Bruce Lacher last year.
The board members thanked Hardy for his work and for his ability to handle the pressure of the job. Hardy responded by saying he appreciated “more than you can imagine” the support he has received from the board and union as well as the work of the management team that has helped put the district back on track.
The contract with Hardy is for one year with a salary of $136,344. In addition he will receive the use of the district vehicle; the same health, dental, vision, retirement and other insurance benefits received by the division chiefs; sick leave in the amount of four hours per pay period; and vacation leave in the amount of 9.2 hours per pay period.
The board also approved a preliminary budget for next year in the amount of $9.163 million. The budget was a reduction of $1.4 million from the 2012-2013 fiscal year which was achieved, in part, by reducing five positions.
Hardy said the budget is tight enough to get the district through another year given that revenues are projected to remain flat.
The district’s CPA, Michael Ocenosak, helped develop the budget and was asked for his comments. Referencing the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” he said the district hopes, at the end of the day, to still have a dollar in its hand. “We hope we will come out with a budget for 2012-13 that we won’t have to use all the reserves we’ve set aside,” he added, noting it won’t be until mid-July before they learn how much revenue they will receive. “We’re $940,000 below expenditures we planned for this year but we have more expenses to come.”
In other board actions, members approved the El Dorado County Emergency Services Authority (JPA) 2013-14 Ambulance Operations preliminary budget for $4 million.
Related to that was a report by Hardy of the JPA’s continuing budget problems. One of the options they are pursuing is issuing a Request for Information (RFI) from agencies interested in providing the same fire-based, advanced life support ambulance transport service they offer, but at less cost. Hardy recommended and the board approved having EDCFPD submit a proposal as well.
Hardy informed the board that the chief of the Diamond Springs Fire Department wanted to conduct informal discussions regarding consolidating with the district. Unwilling to move forward based on the fire chief’s query alone, the board directed staff to contact the board of the Diamond Springs Fire Department and ask for a formal request from it.
The board also received an update on the Request for Proposal to Cal Fire regarding taking over the duties of the district. Cal Fire Amador-El Dorado Unit Chief Kelly Keenan said an incident management team was formed composed of representatives from both agencies. He believed that by mid-August he would have a proposal to present to the board.
Hardy also reported he heard a presentation at a recent JPA meeting regarding potential supplemental Medicare reimbursement as a result of changes to the law. He noted the JPA loses money when it responds to Medicare/Medi-Cal patients because of the low reimbursement rate. However the presenter said the JPA should be receiving a check for $2.9 million within the next 60 days to reimburse them for losses going back to 2010. He said there is also an ongoing supplemental reimbursement of $809,000.
While Hardy admitted he was skeptical of what he heard, if it’s true it could be a “game changer,” he said. Hardy went on to say that first responder agencies may also be eligible to be paid for the difference between their actual cost and what they are reimbursed. Hardy said he would keep the board updated on these developments as more information is forthcoming.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.