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Updated Information and FAQ on Measure Q

The United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County put out an “Updated Information on Measure Q and FAQ” for voters. I wanted to pass it along because its full of wonderful information to help you decide how you will vote. I am encouraging a “Yes” because I do not want any reductions in public safety.

The following is the information from the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County.

After reviewing the candidate forums moderated by CCTIMES Reporter Lisa V. I realize that many of the candidates are not aware of the details of Measure Q and some of them are basing their comments on old information. The top four concerns seem to be, whether or not pension reform will or has taken place, what has been done prior to coming to the vote, whether or not the tax fixes the problem, and why do fire engines respond to medical emergencies, which brings up the question of a new service delivery model.

Pensions and what has been done to reduce costs-

The governor signed a “pension reform bill” which is AB340. The changes in this pension bill will directly impact the fire district personnel. Effective January 2013, all newly hired employees will fall under this plan. The bill is available online but here are some of the highlights:

3% @ age 50 will be changed to 2.7% @ age 57. Final compensation will go from the average of the last highest year to the average of the last three years. A maximum retirement amount will be put in place.

All employees and employers will have until 2018 to split the employee and employer costs. We are already in compliance with this component.

Here is the website of CCCERA which is the board who governs our retirement. We are not part of the CALPERS retirement system. There is a link to the governor’s plan on the website, AB340 and AB197: http://www.cccera.org/ There is also going to be an informational meeting on October 10 at the Retirement Board to go over the reform bills in open forum.

Pension formulas promised to current employees cannot be changed based on the constitution and IRS codes, but the components that impact the final compensation amounts can be changed and have been. Some of them are as follows:

All Firefighters and District staff have taken pay cuts (10%) for firefighters and everyone hired after January 1, 2011 has an additional 10% cut in pay.

These concessions were made and initiated by all District employees represented by Local 1230 (Dispatchers, Firefighters, Fire Investigators, and Fire Inspectors); 290 of the 340 district personnel. The other labor unions that are employees of the District have also made concessions. This has reduced current and future employee costs significantly. The ability to sell back vacation and apply it to final compensation has been eliminated for all employees hired after 1/1/2011 as well. We have hired many firefighters and dispatchers since this date. These changes to pensions, compensation, and hopefully improvement in the economy, will have an impact on the unfunded liability cost over the next 25 years.

A yes or no vote on Measure Q will have no impact on pensions or pension costs for the Fire District above and beyond what has already been done and our current staffing levels.

Budget-

An updated 10 year budget plan has been placed online on the Fire District website: www.cccfpd.org

You will see that the district stays in the “black” for the entire time of the tax. The tax is in place for 7 years. In 10 years the pension obligation bond will be paid off. This puts 14-16 million dollars back into the budget. The budget does not show the savings created by the pension changes that will be implemented in 2013 because these cost are being evaluated by the retirement board and have not been made available. Once these costs are known, the pension cost projections in the current plan will be further reduced.

The 10 year plan also does not include the money being returned to the district due to the elimination of the Redevelopment Agencies. We have lost over 12 million dollars to this agency and are scheduled to receive 2 million of it back so far. As the RDAs complete projects that are already in the works, those taxes will return to the appropriate taxing agency. It is not predictable based on the number of RDAs and their various projects and how long it will take for each agency to be completely dissolved. The RDA money will continue to trickle back into the Fire District’s revenue base over time.

The budget plan uses conservative growth in assessed value increases, and is all based on projections. Changes and adjustments can be made annually based on the economy and annual revenue actually received.

Voting “No” on Measure Q assures the minimum of a $16-$20 million dollar budget deficit based on the current service level.

Response to fire calls as compared to medical emergencies (Service Delivery Model)-

A medical emergency is defined as any response that requires medical attention. This includes vehicle accidents, burns, shootings, stabbings, falls (from all heights and locations), smoke inhalations, heart attacks, seizures, asthma attacks, strokes, industrial accidents, traumatic injuries due to sport related injuries, use of power tools, and the list goes on. Of course there are many more of these types of emergencies than there are fires. Due to our staffing levels we must be ready to respond to them at all times. It takes the same number of firefighters for a fire whether we go to medical calls or not. Not sending us to medical calls only decreases the service level to the public significantly but does not lower personnel cost. We cannot afford to leave three firefighters in the fire station and send two others in a SUV or other vehicle. We respond with our fire engine so we can be available for the next emergency, regardless of what it is or where we are. We always have our “tool box” with us because we are an “all hazard” organization.

We respond to the call types above and play many rolls. We have paramedics that can provide treatment, we make access to the patient (jaws of life, rope rescue, water rescue, confined space rescue, etc), we provide scene safety (prevent hazards, scene protection on freeways, prevent possible fires and explosions from leaking flammable liquids), and we provide manpower for procedures (moving equipment, lifting patients, prepping for emergency procedures).

We often hear the question “why do we respond to medical calls,” I hope this helps. Remember, that the ambulance is a private for-profit company, and it is only staffed with two people. They are dispersed throughout the county and depending on availability and call volume, often get there after we do. The County Emergency Response System has several components that make it reliable. The current system surpasses many other counties in chances of full recovery after a major medical incident. Please view the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting dated August 21, 2012. The item number is SD-4, the link:

http://64.166.146.155/agenda_publish.cfm?mt=ALL&get_month=8&get_year=2012&dsp=ag&seq=229#ReturnTo0

This presentation was given to the Board of Directors by the Fire Chief, The Director of County EMS, and the Medical Director of EMS. It gives a very detailed explaination of why fire engines respond to medicals and the successes of our current service delivery model. These are the folks responsible for the County EMS Plan.

Voting “No” will not have an impact on the taxes you currently pay. It will only impact the service you get for those taxes. It will reduce the number of firefighters on duty per day, which will reduce our capabilities. It will increase the amount of time it takes to get to an emergency and reduce our ability to respond to multiple or major incidents. Reductions in the number of personnel within the Fire District will save money for sure, but it will also reduce the service level provided to the community.

This is not an “us versus them” as some have made this out to be. Anyone interested will be able to see how the money is spent annually. Those concerned will be able to attend Fire Board meetings and budget discussions throughout the term of the 7 year tax. This is not a 7 year contract with the District. The tax gives the District 7 years to right the ship instead of sink it.

The district is funded 90% by property taxes and 10% coming from fees collected for permits and inspections. With the decrease in assessed value of property in the district, over $32 million dollars has been lost in revenue. When you look at your tax bill, there are no addtional fees for fire services on your bill. This would be the first increase of revenue for the district via property taxes.

Please take the time to get the facts about this issue prior to voting. Efforts have been made to reduce cost significantly since 2008. We are asking for $75.00 per parcel to aid in closing the rest of the gap. After reviewing the information, I hope that you support your firefighters by voting “Yes” on Measure Q

Sources of more information include, www.protectccfire.org, or www.cccfpd.org, http://www.cccera.org/

Measure Q Updated Information and FAQ’s-

After reviewing the candidate forums moderated by CCTIMES Reporter Lisa V. I realize that many of the candidates are not aware of the details of Measure Q and some of them are basing their comments on old information. The top four concerns seem to be, whether or not pension reform will or has taken place, what has been done prior to coming to the vote, whether or not the tax fixes the problem, and why do fire engines respond to medical emergencies, which brings up the question of a new service delivery model.

Pensions and what has been done to reduce costs-

The governor signed a “pension reform bill” which is AB340. The changes in this pension bill will directly impact the fire district personnel. Effective January 2013, all newly hired employees will fall under this plan. The bill is available online but here are some of the highlights:

3% @ age 50 will be changed to 2.7% @ age 57. Final compensation will go from the average of the last highest year to the average of the last three years. A maximum retirement amount will be put in place.

All employees and employers will have until 2018 to split the employee and employer costs. We are already in compliance with this component.

Here is the website of CCCERA which is the board who governs our retirement. We are not part of the CALPERS retirement system. There is a link to the governor’s plan on the website, AB340 and AB197: http://www.cccera.org/ There is also going to be an informational meeting on October 10 at the Retirement Board to go over the reform bills in open forum.

Pension formulas promised to current employees cannot be changed based on the constitution and IRS codes, but the components that impact the final compensation amounts can be changed and have been. Some of them are as follows:

All Firefighters and District staff have taken pay cuts (10%) for firefighters and everyone hired after January 1, 2011 has an additional 10% cut in pay.

These concessions were made and initiated by all District employees represented by Local 1230 (Dispatchers, Firefighters, Fire Investigators, and Fire Inspectors); 290 of the 340 district personnel. The other labor unions that are employees of the District have also made concessions. This has reduced current and future employee costs significantly. The ability to sell back vacation and apply it to final compensation has been eliminated for all employees hired after 1/1/2011 as well. We have hired many firefighters and dispatchers since this date. These changes to pensions, compensation, and hopefully improvement in the economy, will have an impact on the unfunded liability cost over the next 25 years.

A yes or no vote on Measure Q will have no impact on pensions or pension costs for the Fire District above and beyond what has already been done and our current staffing levels.

Budget-

An updated 10 year budget plan has been placed online on the Fire District website: www.cccfpd.org

You will see that the district stays in the “black” for the entire time of the tax. The tax is in place for 7 years. In 10 years the pension obligation bond will be paid off. This puts 14-16 million dollars back into the budget. The budget does not show the savings created by the pension changes that will be implemented in 2013 because these cost are being evaluated by the retirement board and have not been made available. Once these costs are known, the pension cost projections in the current plan will be further reduced.

The 10 year plan also does not include the money being returned to the district due to the elimination of the Redevelopment Agencies. We have lost over 12 million dollars to this agency and are scheduled to receive 2 million of it back so far. As the RDAs complete projects that are already in the works, those taxes will return to the appropriate taxing agency. It is not predictable based on the number of RDAs and their various projects and how long it will take for each agency to be completely dissolved. The RDA money will continue to trickle back into the Fire District’s revenue base over time.

The budget plan uses conservative growth in assessed value increases, and is all based on projections. Changes and adjustments can be made annually based on the economy and annual revenue actually received.

Voting “No” on Measure Q assures the minimum of a $16-$20 million dollar budget deficit based on the current service level.

Response to fire calls as compared to medical emergencies (Service Delivery Model)-

A medical emergency is defined as any response that requires medical attention. This includes vehicle accidents, burns, shootings, stabbings, falls (from all heights and locations), smoke inhalations, heart attacks, seizures, asthma attacks, strokes, industrial accidents, traumatic injuries due to sport related injuries, use of power tools, and the list goes on. Of course there are many more of these types of emergencies than there are fires. Due to our staffing levels we must be ready to respond to them at all times. It takes the same number of firefighters for a fire whether we go to medical calls or not. Not sending us to medical calls only decreases the service level to the public significantly but does not lower personnel cost. We cannot afford to leave three firefighters in the fire station and send two others in a SUV or other vehicle. We respond with our fire engine so we can be available for the next emergency, regardless of what it is or where we are. We always have our “tool box” with us because we are an “all hazard” organization.

We respond to the call types above and play many rolls. We have paramedics that can provide treatment, we make access to the patient (jaws of life, rope rescue, water rescue, confined space rescue, etc), we provide scene safety (prevent hazards, scene protection on freeways, prevent possible fires and explosions from leaking flammable liquids), and we provide manpower for procedures (moving equipment, lifting patients, prepping for emergency procedures).

We often hear the question “why do we respond to medical calls,” I hope this helps. Remember, that the ambulance is a private for-profit company, and it is only staffed with two people. They are dispersed throughout the county and depending on availability and call volume, often get there after we do. The County Emergency Response System has several components that make it reliable. The current system surpasses many other counties in chances of full recovery after a major medical incident. Please view the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting dated August 21, 2012. The item number is SD-4, the link:

http://64.166.146.155/agenda_publish.cfm?mt=ALL&get_month=8&get_year=2012&dsp=ag&seq=229#ReturnTo0

This presentation was given to the Board of Directors by the Fire Chief, The Director of County EMS, and the Medical Director of EMS. It gives a very detailed explaination of why fire engines respond to medicals and the successes of our current service delivery model. These are the folks responsible for the County EMS Plan.

Voting “No” will not have an impact on the taxes you currently pay. It will only impact the service you get for those taxes. It will reduce the number of firefighters on duty per day, which will reduce our capabilities. It will increase the amount of time it takes to get to an emergency and reduce our ability to respond to multiple or major incidents. Reductions in the number of personnel within the Fire District will save money for sure, but it will also reduce the service level provided to the community.

This is not an “us versus them” as some have made this out to be. Anyone interested will be able to see how the money is spent annually. Those concerned will be able to attend Fire Board meetings and budget discussions throughout the term of the 7 year tax. This is not a 7 year contract with the District. The tax gives the District 7 years to right the ship instead of sink it.

The district is funded 90% by property taxes and 10% coming from fees collected for permits and inspections. With the decrease in assessed value of property in the district, over $32 million dollars has been lost in revenue. When you look at your tax bill, there are no addtional fees for fire services on your bill. This would be the first increase of revenue for the district via property taxes.

Please take the time to get the facts about this issue prior to voting. Efforts have been made to reduce cost significantly since 2008. We are asking for $75.00 per parcel to aid in closing the rest of the gap. After reviewing the information, I hope that you support your firefighters by voting “Yes” on Measure Q

Sources of more information include, www.protectccfire.org, or www.cccfpd.org, http://www.cccera.org/

Thank you for your time.

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Categorised in: CONFIRE, Contra Costa County

2 Responses »

  1. Lots of good info. Pay attention people.

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  1. Times Still Being Dishonest About CONFIRE | East County Today

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