Local 1230 President Calls for Fire Districts to Consolidate

89

VinceWells

With the results of scientific polling highlighting a $98 parcel tax will likely fail in June, a local firefighter union is now encouraging the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board to stop wasting time on a potential tax and work towards other solutions.

Vince Wells, President, Local 1230 Contra Costa Professional Firefighters, made his unions position known Monday that the ECCFPD Fire Board should discontinue their efforts on a June Parcel Tax and work towards another solution.

He encouraged the Board to exhaust all efforts on a consolidation with Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (CONFIRE).

“It’s not productive to be discussing a parcel tax when it won’t pass,” said Wells.

He explained how the poll that Local 1230 paid for was done with scientific data on expected voter turnout as opposed to the Districts mail out where they will send it to everyone. Wells questioned how accurate the data will be when the results are finalized.

“There is no way of knowing what the sample will be because there is no scientific factor involved.  It’s a waste of time and they should start working with Board of Supervisors and working amongst themselves to begin working on consolidation,” said Wells. “They should be working calculators, property tax, revenue and see what we can do to blend the two departments. That is a best use of time”

He says that if consolidation is not going to be the next step, then they need to go to LAFCO and do their best to get other leaders involved because the District is going to have a revenue and service problem. He noted maybe they can get money from cities, the county to close the gap via LAFCO, but that requires coordination.

“To sit back and debate the tax is a complete waste of time,” said Wells.

Wells called the potential for consolidation as a win-win for both districts stating that the Districts already are playing like one fire department on the ground level.

Wells explained that both districts already provide service to each others community as if it were the same district; the difference is the chiefs, administration, funding sources, and budgets.

When calls are dispatched, they send the closest engines.

“If there is a fire in East Contra Costa County, 5-engines are sent. Of those 5-engines sent to a fire, 9 out of 10 times one is a CONIFRE engine as part of the response,” explained Wells. “At the ground level, we are already playing like one fire department while at the administrative level it’s separate. There is no special call; it’s automatically the closest unit.”

He further said consolidation would be about ensuring East County as a whole would have more resources available which helps everyone.

With the District going down to three stations by November, Wells explained how consolidation could actually ensure four stations remain in East County. He suggests the District can make a few more changes to ensure four-stations could remain open.

“Back when the District was eight stations, it was originally a problem when it came to consolidation, but now they are down to three stations. They can probably get four stations out of East County if East County adjusts their finances,” said Wells.

He suggests that four stations are better than three stations in terms of service provided.

“All it would be is adding Discovery Bay, Brentwood, and Oakley stations to CONFIRE. The other side is CONFIRE is short firefighters. CONIFIRE could absorb them to help their staffing shortages which would keep nine extra firefighters from not getting laid off,” explained Wells.

He says it’s a better deal for both Districts because they are already on the same team; however, it’s no longer a situation where three stations respond and then ask for CONFIRE to help.

Wells stated that ECCFPD firefighters and those hired from the two-year FEMA Grant could be hired by CONFIRE at a lower salary (40% less). He explained that through an agreement of consolidation, they could eventually be brought up to CONFIRE salary within 3-5 years.

“It’s a great savings for the county who has to hire firefighters anyway, but it allows District not to deal with financial increase at one-time,” explained Wells. “We can negotiate a break-even point that is agreed upon for all parties.”

He said normally the union is the holdup on these types of deals, but this is a special situation.

When asked if consolidation could occur by the time ECCFPD is scheduled to shutter station, he was optimistic and responded that it may not be completed, but mutual agreements could be put in place to keep stations open noting that the details can get complex.

One issue that will be a potential holdup is that CONFIRE currently collects 13 cents vs. ECCFPD collecting 6 cents which means some pay higher taxes and it could mean subsidized fire service.

Wells argues that if people want to make that argument, they should start on their own street where they live.

“Someone who bought a home in 1978 is paying less in taxes than someone who bought a home in 2010. You pay different rates but you get the same fire and police services, schools, etc.,” explained Wells.

Wells stated he has had preliminary conversations with CONFIRE Chief Jeff Carman and ECCFPD Chief Hugh Henderson but nothing in depth.

He has had similar conversation with members of the County Board of Supervisors but noted it’s more conceptual at this point in time and there are some real challenges ahead to make it work.

“The game now is working on consolidation and not a parcel tax,” said Wells. “We recommend consolidation, if ECCFPD’s Board have other options and ideas, we need to get to those discussions as opposed to putting on a tax that we know won’t work.”


89 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Mr. Wells for providing a common sense solution. Antioch always sends over engines anyway to East County.

  2. Judging by Mr. Wells comments, it doesn’t seem like the firefighters are behind a tax. It makes the idea of a flyer being sent out sound like a complete waste of money. Maybe it’s time these City councils replace the board members they appointed and replace them with people who can communicate with the voters to pass a tax. I am not in fan of consolidation because we pay more into our fire service than ECCFPD does. I feel for them, but I also do not want to supplement them either.

  3. My level of frustration is so high over this issue. The decades long debate and jury-rigging of services in ECC has led exactly to where many of us said we would be. It should have been dealt with years ago but no body had the leadership or the balls to step up. To be honest, nothing has changed, here we sit debating the issue, wringing our hands, and the damn majority of the residents out here are clueless about the fire dept. I applaud the Firefighters union for stepping up with a solution.

    I know all the idiots that are stuck on wages/pensions are going to start chiming in with negative comments-the union is out for itself, etc.. But let me ask this question–Would you do this job?? For this pay?

    The cities will not step up. Hell in Oakley we are paying over $8-9 million for polices services. Our annual budget is what $12-13 million. Where is the extra money for a fire dept?

    The reality of the issue comes down to this: Either we pay more to have a professional fire dept or we do without. Its that simple.

    • Barbara thank you for your support on this issue. Your right it has been a decade long debate. There have been all the study’s , each one stating we are under funded. Over and over again. We all know we have tried everything possible to make it work out here. The tax funding under prop 13 will never allow any acceptable level of fire protection to the deserving residents of east county. It seems finally we are headed in the right direction.

      • I knew someone would throw in Prop 13. There are so few homes still under 13 it doesn’t matter. Businesses under prob 13 is the funding hang up.

        • Julio,
          It’s my understanding that prop 13 is the main cause for the dilemma. Unless something changed as of yesterday, 100 percent of the homes in CA fall under Prop. 13 and the apportionment methodology. To be clear I am a big supporter of Prop 13 because it stopped run away property taxes and allows many of us to keep our homes. The problem is that it did not contain a provision for what we are experiencing which is an unbalanced revenue share. This means certain services (the fire department in this case) are working from a funding formula that was frozen in time (1978). Businesses also pay into an entirely different set of taxes.

          I did a little research and was dumbfounded to find out where our tax dollar goes. If I can find the percentages again, I will post them. I think most citizens have no idea where their property tax goes once they write the check. I support the firefighters and Prop 13 but the current situation is asking 2 + 2 to equal 9. That just can’t happen.

  4. Surprised to see the firefighters undermine the fireboard. Usually it’s the union who is messing things up. Sounds like Knightsen, Bethel Island, Byron and Discovery Bay is going to lose a stations no matter what they do and never be reopened I am not happy about this firefighter plan. There are other solutions such as volunteers who can help reduce the costs.
    There is a lot of work to be done if this was to ever become a reality. If I was the ECCFPD Board, I would think long and hard about going forward on a tax the union apparently does not support.

    • There is no evidence that volunteers reduce total costs to the residents of the District. In fact, the evidence points to the opposite.

      If avoiding the parcel tax is your only goal, then yeah, assume volunteers saves you that money. But what about the ancillary costs?

      – Slower response time resulting in increased loss of property and life

      – Increase in insurance premiums as a result of the increased losses

      – Decrease in property values due to decrease in fire department readiness

      – Loss of businesses and business revenue as they slowly leave the area because their costs and risks have increased substantially

      – Opportunity costs lost because new, larger employers will not move into an area with substandard fire services

      Have to look at the big picture and not cut your nose off to spite your face.

      Keep in mind, ConFire has their own issues and will have to secure a parcel tax of their own.

      After 6 years of fighting for local control for ECCFPD, using the reasoning that only local control could get a parcel tax through. Now facing giving back that control and eventually a parcel tax would have to go before the voters, but under the ConFire banner?

      Ground Hog Day.

  5. All I can say is follow the money …..the union bosses know that leveraging is inevitable so they are now on board with a ‘consolidation’ as it would be stupid for them not to be. Allowing con fire to be the succeeding entity puts more tax payer money ultimately into their control.

    This is truly an amazing opportunity for the cc bos to step up and deal with a bad situation in a progressive way. They could be national leaders in doing what just about every local government needs to do ……. reduce overhead and improve service. The answer is not to ‘consolidate’ but to create a NEW agency that uses the old buildings and equipment but starts fresh with modern/progressive service models and protocols tailored to each area served. The fresh start would also include a tiered compensation plan that blends old and new in a way that is sustainable in good times and bad times and does not take anything more out of the tax payers pockets.

    I would not expect everyone to love this way forward but most will and it is a one time chance for the politicos to stand up to the union and do something really good for the tax payers who they work for.

      • Jim, he’s a lower case mentality. You’ll have to lose the caps or he won’t get it.

        Check that………..he still won’t get it.

      • He doesn’t live in Cali and I’m not entirely convinced he resides on the same planet as us.

        “Follow the money”? “Union bosses”? Maybe he lives in Chicago? Mr. jb, please pay attention:

        Clue number one–There is NO money-that’s the problem!
        Clue number two–The union bosses are the rank and file firefighters. You know them as minions.

        Most of your posting basically says blah-blah-blah which can actually be condensed down to: Take my advice because I think I know what I am talking about (no experience needed),fire everyone, rehire them at a lower wage, try to screw the firefighters by breaking the law, get sued by union for violating known laws. Did I overlook anything? And to think, you actually said: “I would not expect everyone to love this way forward…..”

  6. @Jill Thompson55

    I don’t believe Mr Wells said the Union does not support the Pacel Tax, to be clear I think he said the Union will not endorse going forward with a Tax that the PUBLIC does not support? Which I believe to be prudent. In doing so would be insanity….. Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Kudos to the Union for paying for the Poll (for the District) and not endorsing the Tax after evaluating the results. Please BOS, LAFCO, Con Fire and Eccfpd leadership, consolidate

  7. jb, How is your tactic of repeating your illegal, impossible & irresponsible wish list over and over, working out for you?

    I wish there was a way to put “jb” on an ignore list. Oh wait, he already is! Wow, I got my wish and I only had to post it once!!!

  8. J.b volunteer and POC were a wonderful thing in the past. They preformed with tremendous honor. For many years they were able to keep up with the call volume, but not anymore. Did you know most of us came from those backgrounds. It’s a great starting point for anyone’s career. As far as union bosses, please that’s just silly. I’m proud to be in a union, But let’s be real serious. We are not running moonshine or thumping people.

    • This sounds like an excellent idea to save East County and ultimately bring greater service down the road to the residents that deserve professional medical and fire services.

      I 100% support the Firefighters union on this matter. Let’s put some pressure on EcCFPDs board to get the ball moving and began communications with ConFires Chief Carman, Eccfpd Chief Henderson, LAFCO and ConFires Board of supervisors.

      Hopefully all the parties involved can get this matter resolved in a timely fashion and provide the Firefighters of East County the stability and pay they deserve but most importantly insure that East County continues to receive professional services.

      Let’s stand behind this decision and show the board that we the residents of Rast County is what wed like to see out of our fire services. Not a silly tax that is destined to fall short and leave us with 3 stations that cannot supportout families!

      • @ Supporter,

        I must have missed the “decision”. I see a suggestion, recommendation, but it is the same that has been floated many times, many ways. The idea of consolidation is nothing new.

        Would you support the idea if it also necessitated a tax? Odds are, a consolidation would come with a liability (tax) in the $200-300 range. Are we ready for that?

        Nothing is free.

        • Com on bro don’t start with the B.S. scare tactics. Just like the insurance will go up. Hog wash. That insurance thing is BS. Insurance is done by region not by East County. Even if an increase was possible it would take up to two years going through the state insurance commissioner’s office to approve, IF it gets approved. So stop that crap now. Vince Wells is right and the firefighters deserve the same pay. Its about time Vince stood up and saw the light at the end of the tunnel. The only reason it wasn’t completed before was because the communities supported the POCs. The union took care of that and now it should be smooth sailing. It also was done before, it can be done again. Liability tax ? No not true again. You must be a Piepho puppet to try to stop this. She created the problem in the first place and continues to promote development without fire consideration by voting down a facilities district. That says it all. What a way to support your town. You must be proud. Consolidation is the only real solution. Maybe after consolidation I think the entire county would back a quarter cent sales tax for all fire districts. In fact, I would bet money on it.

          • @ECVsBro

            Dude, are you as big an idiot in person as you sound online?

            ECCFPD was formed on August 14, 2002, via LAFCO resolution 02-24, a full 2.5 years before Piepho took a Supervisor seat.

            Most of the development in unincorporated East County(bulk of which in Discovery Bay) was approved in the mid 1990s. Again, well before her time. As a conditional of that development, they ponied up the land and construction of Station 59 which was given to the District. Suffice to say the $3M or so in land and building was “paying their way”.

            CFDs in the cities are for the cities to create and operate. They aren’t there so numbskulls from Knightsen can letter bomb their city councils over and over and whine that he thinks they should spend money in the fire department so he can remain a cheapskate.

            That’s pretty much the way it went down the last 5 years, wasn’t it johnny?

            Do you spend all your waking hours lying to people like you do here? Playing on peoples’ lack of knowledge about the history so you can grind that axe with Piepho? Grow the F up already. You act like a little child still throwing a fit. Like the day you walked out of the KTAC meeting throwing a fit. Piepho wouldn’t let you retract your resignation and here we are watching you vent on blogs over and over and over trying for payback with her.

            Facilities Districts have a return to source requirement. Meaning if you had forced those onto the builders, that money would have to be used in the communities from which they came. In other words, you wouldn’t be taking money from Discovery Bay West to keep your Knightsen station open. That would be illegal.

            In fact, if I were the folks in the Cypress corridor, I’d be raising holy hell right now after the closure of the BI station(the closest responder). It doesn’t appear to me legit to collect money from them while REDUCING localized fire services. If Mr. Smith is concerned about creating assessment plans for the November ballot and their liability, he might best look at the potential legal liability he already has in the Cypress corridor.

            For the slow ones(looking at you, johnny):

            Special taxes = higher threshold of approval, more flexibility of spending
            Assessments = lower threshold, more limited in how it’s spent.

            Consolidation does not create a county wide fire district, so why in the hell do you think San Ramon or Richmond would agree to pay a tax to fund your fire department? You did say entire county.

            Do you just completely make this crap up as you go? Amazing that a former fire commissioner comes in here and spouts about an issue he SHOULD know something about and comes across looking like he totally has his head up his azz? That takes talent!

          • ECVsBrother,

            I would like to set you straight. Unfortunately even with all the unlimited space on the internet, there still isn’t enough room to do so. You are a very misguided individual and apparently very stubborn. I can only believe that your current path has not taken you very far in life which has led you to issues controlling your anger. Your venom seems to be unleashed in a flurry random thoughts which fails to get any real point across.

            I am of the belief that the content of your posts, best demonstrate the limits of your talents.

  9. Let me see if I am following this incredibly math challenged discussion.

    So we are supposed to take 2 different fire districts, both with long term funding problems, both being currently propped up and avoiding more station closures with the help of federal bailouts.

    Mash them all together, take away about 6.5 million in federal money and we come out the other end with better service and more stations for everyone!?

    I want some of whatever you people are on!!

  10. Thank you Mr. Wells. This is the best solution that has been brought forward yet. Not only would it decrease overhead cost, I think it could bring up the quality of service and professional development of the fire fighters as well. No, we may not ever get our 7-8 stations back again but will can feel confident we will have 4 fully staffed quality stations. As citizens we had out chance for more stations and we blew it. This is definately a positive step in the right direction.

    • And no, it is not a ‘DECISION’….but it is the best ‘proposed’ solution anyone has publically come up with.

      • Ms. Urban,

        So nice, I have to say it twice! I see a suggestion, recommendation, a PROPOSAL but it is the same that has been floated many times, many ways. The idea of consolidation is nothing new. Ask Vince Wells, The BOS, LAFCO or anyone that has been involved in this. No offense to Mr. Wells, but it really wasn’t his idea, and although it is a good one it comes with its challenges. Possibly, many to difficult to overcome, so the jury may be out for quite some time.

        In the meantime, I’d like to ask: Where have you been since you actually believe it is the best proposed solution anyone has brought forward?

        • I’ve been around for many decades Mr. ECV and I am well versed in the inter-workings of the fire district. I just don’t feel the need to needlessly run my mouth or criticize people online. I have always thought this would be a viable option. As in life, sometimes we need to take a few missed shots to make a goal. With all due respect, I am not interested in senseless banter. I am simply stating my educated opinion regarding the above article which I personally support. You do not need to question what hole I crawled out of sir.

          • Ms. Urban,

            Your previous post did not reflect your experience via an educated opinion, nor does your current one do so. With all due respect, If it made you wonder why I asked in the first place, then it wasn’t that senseless.

            I am merely trying to end the senseless banter. There evidently is no shortage of it or uneducated opinions which is why I called yours into question. It’s not my first rodeo.

          • Big Bro ECV, you are senseless banter. I believe Ms. Urban offered you to crawl back in your hole. Tastefully I might add.

    • A couple of things here. Let’s first establish a couple of facts:

      a) Come November ECCFPD is down to only enough revenue for 3 stations. In a consolidation, the only 2 positions that could be cut for savings are the Chief and one administrative position. The BC positions are all still needed unless you are crazy enough to suggest you can stack a new 250 sq mile area on top of an existing BC in ConFire. Potential overtime savings I would call a push since both Districts have the issue.

      b)ConFire has their own closure issues. They’ve closed 2 and have more slated for closures soon. Meaning they have no money or resources to spare.

      So who are you borrowing the 2 million from for the 4th station? What in overhead costs are you suggesting can be saved with a merger? Think the folks in Clayton will be thrilled to hear you intend to take resources from their area to reopen one of ours and leave them hanging with theirs that got closed last year?

      Consolidation just means someone else is running it. There is no superfluous overhead in ECCFPD that is suddenly saved with a merger that allows us to recoup the cost of a 4th station. Instead of borrowing engines from a neighboring district via auto-aid, as we do now, they’ll just be from the same district. But they are still going to have to travel those same long distances they do now!

      Guess what. There will still be a parcel tax vote!! No ifs, ands or buts. There isn’t anything in this that even delays it except some false security that the public is trying to latch onto that doesn’t exist.

      This discussion blows my mind. The assumptions are many. The logic and simple mental math calculations totally absent.

      • Your right maybe consolidation isnt the answer, but if everything has failed I hope LAFCO gives the opportunity to Brentwood and Oakley to seek services elsewhere(meaning they can contract out there services). They leagally have to provide sufficient fire protection to there citizens. Brentwood is not to far off fiscally to support a Confire station. So maybe I am being selfish but I want my family protected.

      • -Chief position would save 200,000 +/-

        -Go to ECCFPD’s web site look at the financial documents. County services total 750,000 +/-

        -Cancelling Cal Fire contract would save 450,000 +/- (merge may allow Clayton station to reopen, helping cover Morgan Territory/Marsh Creek. BTW Sunshine is not closed)

        -AV growth (at a very conservative 2%) will rise 500,000 over 3 years.

        -Secretary would likely be absorbed into County HR 100,000+/- (after benefits/salary)

        I’m sure there would be other sources of savings, and again that’s a 2% AV growth factor. Extremely conservative.

        • So you missed the part about an $18M combined deficit?

          You outline how to get one of them back. You got another 17 Mil in your back pocket? If not, someone is going to lose stations. The belief that teaming up means we reopen stations in East County while ConFire closes more of theirs is about as far fetched as it gets.

          • Let me be clear about my position. I want LAFCO to grant the city in which I live to seek services elsewhere ie.. Confire. All other options have failed. Davis reoprt, Citygate, no one has been able to do what these reports have stated. So if Brentwood can afford the money to support the amount Confire needs to staff stations, then give them the opportunity. Yes I am being selfish. I want my family protected.

  11. ECV I have lived out here for years and it seems I have heard of this consolidation before. But I don’t remember there ever being such a need for it. Maybe you know something I don’t. But if there has been a poll conducted, and it states the tax has no chance why would east county spend more money on it. My thought was the district would the monies they have and put that toward the merger. I heard most came from the Brentwood because they had all the population. Do you know how much comes from the unincorporated? But doesn’t the county has some responsibility to also pay into budget.

    • Better off,

      I agree that consolidation has been talked about before-quite a bit actually. There has always been a need but most people haven’t put a priority on it. (Not sure they do yet). I also agree a tax at this point in time is a complete waste of $$$. Can’t say I disagree that the district should put any money possible in keeping the district afloat and firefighters employed as long as possible. It is my understanding that every city and every unincorporated pay into the district at different rates. One would think this can be verified through the county tax assessor. I can see that at the end of the day, even a consolidation will not pay the entire bill. We need not fool ourselves into thinking consolidation is the complete answer. A tax will still be needed. I don’t see too many people acknowledging that fact. Would I be wrong?

  12. I think this is an excellent opportunity for all of East Contra Costa, and the county as a whole. It would eliminate overhead, redundancies, provide security for the public and our firefighters not to mention an increase in service (Paramedics on engines). A county wide model is the most efficient way to utilize resources and not waste tax dollars. In time, as AV’s rise, maybe even get back up to a 5 station model.
    As for those that say other parts of the county would be subsidizing east county, I believe the current budget supports 3 stations maybe even 4 with AV’s on the rise. Not including the money that would be saved from a more efficient administrative model and not contracting dispatch/HR services.
    I have lived here nearly 30 years and this is the first opportunity for us as citizens to get informed, get involved and finally come up with a long term solution. Will it be unanimous? Most likely not. But lets put our heads together and figure this out.
    I encourage everyone to attend all the meetings pertaining to this, it is the only way the fire board, BOS and LAFCO etc. will be able to hear what we are thinking. The next fire board meeting is March 3rd at the Oakley city hall 6:00pm, and there is a LAFCO meeting tomorrow at 651 Pine St. in Martinez at 1:30. Hopefully you will attend in support. If not, at least your involved.

    • When’s the big bake sale you’re holding for all these extra services? Because you certainly aren’t getting that money from ConFire.

      Don’t assume because they have ALS it automatically carries over. Stepped services is not a new concept and will certainly play a role here.

      What administrative cost savings are you referring to? I see that mentioned as a headline by several, but nobody bothers to explain what that means in English. Combined, the two Districts have about an $18 million shortfall if they intend to maintain current service levels. if you’re thinking there is $18M savings potential in losing a couple of administrative staff in EC then I question your math.

      Bottom line, consolidation does not eliminate the need for a supplemental tax. If anyone is thinking it does, they are kidding themselves. Consolidation just means one bigger, underfunded district instead of two. It does not solve the underfunding problem.

  13. Some clarification here. As stated prior this isnt about FF’s or the board supporting a tax or not supporting a tax, the reality is based on the polling paid for by Contra Costa Firefighters its the voters that do not support the tax. The challenge is community members want to keep what they have when there has been a 40% reduction in property values, which equates to a similar reduction in tax revenue. Everything has been looked at from privitization, consolidation with all of the jurisdictions around the district, even volunteers, none of which had the support to move forward. The final option was the tax measure and now there is not enough support to bring revenue back up to previous levels in order to sustain current services. The mailer from the board is NOT another poll, it is simply a final opportunity for the communiities to understand the current situation and provide input. If the response is consistent to what has been experienced so far then the tax measure is pointless and a waste of money. The fact is the response would have to be SIGNIFICANT for the tax measure to be a viable option. I can assure you the board is open to whatever maintains acceptable staffing levels and response times, minimizes harm to people and property and prevents the laying off of truly dedicated and exceptional firefighters. If nothing else works the final option will be the closure of 2 stations and likely modification of the overall response system within the district.

    Regarding Vince’s idea of consolidation, when this was looked at previously costs were increased over the current ECCFPD budget in order for Con Fire to assume ECCFPD. If in some way that option can come in at an affordable level then no doubt that option would come back to the table. Regardless it appears whatever happends moving forward there will likely be a reduction in staffing levels for ECCFPD and that will be tragic.

    • Greg,

      Thank you for describing what is referred to as a “push poll”. If the mailer is asking the recipients to “reply” or weigh in on anything, then it IS a poll. The questions remain; what is the real purpose of the mailer and do you actually expect people to reply (on time and on their dime)? None of it makes a lick of sense if the board is not moving forward with a tax, nor does it make sense to take an informal poll of that which is already evident. I believe many people here are trying to not call the board on the carpet for wasting more of the district’s money, so that the board could postpone a difficult decision. That is what it comes down to isn’t it?

      What you fail to realize is that sometimes no option is the only way to a solution. You simply haven’t figured that out yet. Whether or not you can see it or even accept it is irrelevant. It is what it is. The situation will continue to evolve with or without the board directing it, but actually moving it forward takes leadership. That type of leadership is obviously lacking on the board.

      All of the answers are contained in your last paragraph. You just need to read between the lines.

  14. I believe that a return to source option needs to be out there( similar to consolidation). Difference is you get what you pay for. Me being a Brentwood resident who was told that I was buying a home in an upcoming community with appropriate public services wants a merge with Con Fire. I get Fire with ALS. If you look at the money Brentwood puts in, it is not far off budget wise from meeting the amount to support a Con Fire station.I will not be happy if a Brentwood station closes again. I hope my city council members are paying attention to what is going on.

    • I understand your desire for the “Return to Source” model. However, there are a lot of additional costs that are often left out of that equation. I don’t think you can can simply take what Brentwood contributes, divide into station costs and assume you can afford to go it alone. Things like chiefs, engines, training expenses, equipment are all shared amongst the district. So in a sense Bethel Island, Knightsen etc. are also subsidizing part of the costs for all of that stuff. It’s all shared so everyone pitches in. If Brentwood and Oakley chose to go it alone they would be footing the bill for all those shared services, making your cost per station increase. Additionally there would be mutual aid fees as other agencies would be attempting to make up for a lack of funding. A county merge would eliminate a bunch of redundancies on a much larger scale. If I missed your point I apologize.

      • I did not mean go it alone. I mean contract services with the county. Examples are Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Kensington the list goes on. What I am saying is as a resident of a so called up and coming community I deserve fire protection. By the way I supported measure S and believed in local control. I have read the Davis report, Citygate report and attended meetings concerning this district for the last ten years. I believe everything has been done to make this work and it has failed. So now I call upon my CITY to protect my family.

        • I see, yes I agree with you. Thanks for educating yourself and participating for so long.

  15. Did somebody miss something here?? The board already put out a request for consolidation to Con fire and they turned it down flat as did Alameda County Fire, Cal Fire and San Ramon Valley Fire. It looks to me like consolidation is not an option. Mr Wells can wish all he wants but it doesn’t look like the strapped county is wanting to take on ECCFPD. They already made this clear to the board. That is why there is no talk of consolidation…It has already been looked into. In order to consolidate there has to be an agency to consolidate with. It appears there is none at this time. Con Fire will not get the whole 8 million dollar ECCFPD budget..Once consolidation happens they will get a portion of it and the rest will be re allocated to other special districts. Stop fooling yourselves.

  16. I’ll say it again because it’s important and I didn’t need to spend a lot of time on it;

    Everything realistic leads to a Con Fire merger as the solution. The constant bickering, name calling, blaming, and dividing on here by everyone shows there is no future as is stands now. The merging of east county and Con Fire is not something new as it was tried before. It would have succeeded if it were not for Oakley, Knightsen, and Bethel Island in unison support of their system of POCs at the time.The communities were satisfied and supported the model.

    That did not stop Riverview ( Antioch Fire ) from actually merging.That is why Con Fire is there today. It needs to be noted ( for some of subject freaks on here that will go 5150 ) that the tax rates for Riverview and Con Fire were different at the time but the county worked that out. That merge has been successful since.

    This is an observation, I don’t care if any of the blog freaks like it or not. I do not care if they show their elementary IQs with negative comments towards me it really doesn’t matter because they live in an adolescent fantasy world and the subject is not about personalities.
    Here are several controversial subject reasons that back the claim to the only final solution that is actually good for the firefighters, the union, East County, and potential volunteers.
    These examples do not mean I agree or disagree. They merely show the confusion and division East County communities have on this subject.
    We are in an area that is both rural and urban with only an urban approach at fire suppression.
    We have several different amounts of revenue contribution between the different areas
    We have a pro union stance and a right to work or volunteer stance split within the public
    We constantly fight within the different opinions with no chance of compromise
    We have a revenue problem that has not been aggressively reversed by actions
    There is a difference in service needs but not a different in service applications for each area
    Everyone wants to run the district and political influence is affecting success by division
    All government entities east of Antioch or Not on the same page for solutions
    No identified true leadership with ultimate power has been exercised to its fullest
    Too much union intervention in managing the district has been allowed
    Parts of the rural area continue to support reserves and/or volunteers
    The last minute fix approach has been warn out
    Merger will be the only last solution because;
    The leading fire agency in the county is Con Fire
    It was done before
    The union will get its acceptable result
    The fire fighters will get the pay deserved
    Con Fire accepts volunteers
    Combining resources eliminates some duplication
    The communities will support it now
    A county 1/4 cent sales can reduce the burden and has shown support to supplement all fire districts within the county.
    Con Fire has all the supporting resources that currently are purchased by ECCFPD
    The County has an obligation to allow it revenue disparity or not as it has been done before.
    Revenue is on the way back due to housing price increases and construction. 21% housing price increase, several hundred new homes under construction. Con Fire has the ability to finance until the increased revenue is realized.

  17. David consolidation is ultimately up to the people not to a few individuals. Besides if the district board walks out, who do you think is holding the bag. Yes, that would be Contra Costa County. ECCFPD is still not a member of LAFCO and it has not completed the requirements to be fully independent. Don’t let anyone snow ball you on that. Call County LAFCO yourself.

  18. David I believe the last there was talk of merger east county had eight stations. That was years ago. Many things have changed since then. Wouldn’t everyone agree they have exhausted all options at this point. The poll clearly says there is no support for a tax, at any amount.I heard the current budget was somewhere around nine million. Under the con fire model that is plenty for three stations. That is without any additional revenue from anyone. Now just imagine the county, Brentwood and Oakley and disco all put in some. Wow then there could be four. Antioch engines appear to be here all the time anyway. I see them on all the big fires already. There is talk of AVs improving. Yes it does appear con fire has their challenges. That’s why a more regional approach is required. Based on info from the fire board meetings our district already pays for dispatching and fire prevention through them. Why duplicate efforts. Why have two fire chiefs. Why not order everything at the same time down to the paper towels. There could be huge savings. Just saying.

    • The Board just a few months ago put out a request to those districts for interest in consolidation…all parties declined.

      • I believe the district has put out several requests for interest over many years. At the current and past status of the department, no entity in its right mind would want to take on a district that is virtually upside down. However as Better off put it, things are changing. Under the current course the district is headed toward 3 stations and a budget that matches that status. While it is not what we need, it would make the department easier to consolidate. The political will of any agency considering merger,pulse of the public and the affirmation of LAFCO will also have to play a very large role. If not, then it is three and out. We lose.

  19. Better off pretty much sums it up. If the two consolidated, the Chief and BC’s would probably be offered similar pay.That’s what government does. The good part is the firefighters would automatically have a better chance a better wage. Not much would change from what we are looking at for next year except maybe 2 Brentwood stations instead of one. As it stands now we are probably looking at three stations anyway. At least until the property tax revenue corrects itself. Signs already say it is.It will just take more time.

    It seems that all fire districts are having some sort of financial problem. A small county wide sales tax would create revenue for all the fire districts. Each district would receive those portions of sales tax within its borders.The sales tax would be specifically for fire.

    • ECV’sBrother,

      “A small county wide sales tax”? Now that is comical.

      Honestly, did you just pull that one out of thin air? There are so many issues with that statement alone, it is clear to me that you have no concept of what you are talking about.

      There is nothing like clouding the issue with more ignorant conjecture. No offense but you just cant make this stuff up as you go along.

      Wow.

      • Nice… you got him. Wow, you must feel great about that. Did you learn that in Richard Craniums School for Ettiquet and Kind Actions, or are you a natural born prick?

        • Righteous,

          It wasn’t about me getting him, it was about him getting himself. His latest effort was an award winning performance, even for him. I felt the need to point it out as I have grown tired of his repetitive nonsense and his constant axe to grind. You see I have a real problem with people like him (and you) who broadcast B.S. all because you want to spend more time arguing than comprehending. It’s no secret that you fit right in, so it is also no wonder you are quick to jump into the mix. I’ll be more than happy to accommodate you as well. And yes it felt great, you should see the smile on my face. Of course that was lost on a limited thinker like you. What’s your excuse, small dick?

          • I thought that was you gazing over the stall divider in the restroom. Has your latent homosexuality caused you much anxiety, or is bashing anonymous people on blogs your therapy?

  20. I just don’t know what it would take for the people of ECC to be satisfied. Tax? No. Merger? No. You people are ridiculous. I’ll be damned if my families safety is in jeopardy because of a forever-lasting pissing match. Support the merge. Everybody wins.

    • Joe,

      What seems to be at the heart of the issue is everyone speculating on how they assume things should proceed, when most posting here actually have no idea about government rules, regulations and requirements. .

      And example of this is the fact that Brentwood, Oakley or Discovery Bay as individuals cannot simply “split off”. There are Statewide “rules” which LAFCO is charged with, that govern Dissolutions, Consolidations, Annexations, Merger’s etc. Fire District board members, City Councils and even the Board of Sups cannot override the LAFCO commissions requirements. There is a lot to be learned by visiting the website or attending a meeting. http://www.contracostalafco.org/

      If Martinez is too far or you cannot find enough information to suit your needs on the website, then you should contact Mary Piepho who sits on LAFCO and the County Board of Supervisors. She should be able to address any questions, concerns and put to rest many of the assumptions offered here. http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=740

      Personally I fail to see the real pissing match. The voters have spoken (Measure S and Measure Q) and the elected leaders are charged with implementing what they have to work with. I believe in time we are going to see 2 more stations closed. With no money available, there is really no way around it. At that point in time there will be a new situation to deal with and then we can move to the next step-whatever that is. Until then all that remains is assumption and speculation or what you call, “a pissing match”. In time that will pass too.

      Currently there is no official action pending on a merger so there is little if anything to support.

      • I apologize for shooting from the hip using my emotions as the basis for this discussion (like every other person on this site does). I understand that government, specifically in ECC, is very complex and there are no simple solutions for age-old problems. I will make an attempt to attend the meeting.Thank you for educating me on this issue.

  21. People just frustrate me to hell….. you don’t want to pay a tax, But you want to pay more for your fire service because you pay already, you think firefighters get paid too much already but you expect them to do there job for free???? no one works for free…. the only real solution is a merger fair game for everyone. We here in ECC get our fire service, Firefighters keep their jobs and everyone then can shut the hell up! Oh wait there still will be those that will find something to piss on firefighters for because they never have to USE IT!

  22. Joe,

    No apology is due. Hope you will attend meetings or reach out to those that do sit on any of these boards. You will learn more in 5 minutes than you would reading blogs for 5 days.

    Shannon,

    Everyone is frustrated. But it only gets worse when there are those putting out false information disguised in opinion. The situation is relatively simple.

    Fire district funding formula is flawed and never was enough to begin with-Prop #13. This is true everywhere in CCCounty but especially true in east CCCounty.

    Revenue is down because property tax has declined (we are and have been paying less-no one really wants to admit this).

    The solution no matter how you address it will involve proper funding. Even with consolidation (which is not a bad idea) there will have to be an additional parcel tax. There is no way around the “tax” part of the equation. We cannot do more or even tread water with less. Right now we are paying less, and in turn district is receiving less in revenue-that is a FACT.

    Everything else that is brought up (pensions, delivery models, insurance) have some degree of relevance but simply clouds the issue. Certain people tend to use those as distractions. We have all witnessed it in meetings and in the media.

    Due to a combination of a lack of new leadership and citizen apathy this entire process needs to run its course. Everyone has responsibility for the current situation. That’s the bottom line.

  23. Is a small county wide sales tax a bad idea? Why? Because it’s small? Because it’s county wide? Because it’s a sales tax? Are there pro’s and cons?

    The guy who scoffed at it may know the answer, but he just scoffed. How about explaining why it’s such a sumb idea?

    • People it’s 2014 not 1970. Everything has gotten more expensive. Wake up everyone . If you believe public safety is important. Support the efforts for improvement. If not I hope you never have to call 911 for anything. I hope most ecc residents have a clue, because most of the comments so far are very naive. It’s probably the same old nay Sayers ,who just want failure. I want the same public safety that every other resident gets in the rest of the county, and the rest of the Bay Area.

    • One of the root problems with the way fire is funded now is the revenue being tied to a volatile base calculation, namely the up and down nature of property values.

      While on the cost side of the equation(same is true for all gov’t agencies) the trend is just up.

      Sales tax would be just as bad as it goes up and down with economic cycles, making it unreliable and unpredictable. In fact it’s worse.

      The only real way to fix the funded problem once and for all is to pick a source and a figure that is more stable and better tracks with agency costs.

      • That’s a great point Jigs. It’s too bad there isn’t a simple way to apply an equalization or appropriations fee or credit to property taxes in a way that it would give all fire agencies the same amount (10 percent?) of the one percent collected. As it sits now we pay differing amounts under prop 13 for a variety of services. The property tax pie charts (TRA’s) are different in every area. When it comes down too it, we all should pay the same for the services that are a constant throughout the county, and fire fits that category.

  24. This consolidation idea has me concerned. My Town of Discovery Bay needs to hear me out. My blogger buddies ECV, Jigs, and In the Know all approve of everything I say because I say it. The fire district needs to shut down the Knightsen and Discovery Bay fire stations so we feel the pain. I know, because I know everything about anything when it comes to fire. I was thinking about the new homes coming into my Town of Discovery Bay and did not consider your fire district and safety by making a facility fee for the 600 new families so they would be ensured your fire station in my Town of Discovery Bay would stay open. I and my subjects would rather see them close the stations and the public feel the hurt because I love developers more than my Town of Discovery Bay. Before any merger is considered you must do what I say or me and my subjects will bad mouth you.

    • @Dougchebag in Discovery Bay, I would encourage you to stick to a single name and stop playing around with an alias. I know who you are so knock it off already. Based off your IP Address, so far, your names include:

      ECVsBrother
      Fire Decoy
      B-W Team
      Stop the Killing
      Cal Fire Mon
      Bob Minions Pinion Brain
      Bob Minion
      Bob M
      Mavericks Sister
      ECV Brother and Friend
      David A Dumb
      Workingman4U
      Joe EPA
      No Need to Buy a Clue
      D.B.Minion
      Fed up with career politicians
      Dave Munion
      ECVsFather
      FriendofVoters123etc.
      ECVsenior
      Bob David
      Amateur character fan
      Mr, Cow E.I.E.I.Oh
      Free Clues
      SumdumfukinDB
      USUCDONGWONG
      Bob Davey
      DB Fool
      GH
      HonestInjun
      Joeworkerbee
      Watcha
      One
      Bad Breed
      MorMoney4Fire
      Crime
      Voc
      WR
      JoeJoe
      ECVsBrotherfromanothermother
      Piehole
      Davesbrother59
      Stop theMurdering
      Poorman
      U2b
      SmeltLover
      regional rider
      Joe
      AGS
      FIreFriend
      YHSc
      Ores
      RealisticS
      RaceCardDummy
      Interesting
      CFER
      DDB
      Voter27
      Jose
      OakleyRes
      RealsticVoter
      Oakleyite Commoner
      Joe Firefighter Capt.
      Dave
      Millie
      Live Where You Play
      FSF
      UnionJoe
      MF

      • East County Today,

        How does use of multiple names violate the rules you have described for your blog? Why do you think the issue matters? As a reader, I would rather see you devote your energy to enforcing the basic civility guidelines you have put forth, starting with the. Grandmothers’ rule.

        • @So What, you are another one who likes to play with user names… pick one and stick with it and there would not be an issue. You have a dozen or so names under this IP address. Fortunately, you do not get to decide where we devote our energy. The prior commenter does create problems in the back end by using multiple names–for example, we then have to approve the comments.

          • Editor….Sorry, I wasn’t playing games with usernames, just didn’t think they mattered. Thanks for explaining the reason you care. Anything you do to review or moderate the site is appreciated so I will attemp to keep the user names to a minimum.

            Now if you could get some of your pals to refrain from name calling and other personal insults this site would attract and retain more and better readers. And you advertisers would no doubt appreciate the improved demographics.

            And I’m all for requiring real names that are at least Facebook validated to really clean up the posting. At this point, people using their real names are just setting themselves up for personal attacks from anonymous trolls. I love the irony of anonymous posts labeling actual people as cowards.

            Keep up the good work!

    • Johnny, to your credit you spelled “douchebag” correctly. Did you have to pull your Driver’s License out to check it? But then you blew it on the closer with “me and my subjects”.

      I’m sorry, I’m going to have to go with a C- on that effort. The rambling mess in the middle was just painful to read.

      Can you let me in on the secret? For who and where did they approve 600 homes?

      Wherever these mythical homes are going to be, are they not going to be subject to the same 1% property tax rate as everyone else? If they are paying that, then why are you implying they won’t contribute to the fire district?

      Sleep on it and get back to us tomorrow. You appear to be on the verge of a blog aneurysm or something and we wouldn’t want to hurt yourself trying to string together a coherent sentence in a response.

    • You must have me confused with another douchebag. I like the pie hole one though. 3 out of fifty ain’t bad. I might try the DB Fool. When you treat everyone the same, I might take you up. You have no clue who I am except an American Citizen who likes freedom of speech just like the other condescending people you give a free ride to.

      • Pick a name, stick with it, or your comments will no longer be accepted. “Douchebag” is not acceptable as a username. Its of your opinion I do not treat everyone the same, for the record, your past actions have shown you have not earned that same treatment. And yes, I know who you are… if you have a problem with that, email me and we can chat about it offline.

    • Dbag in DB,

      I’m not exactly sure why new homes in the district (anywhere) has you so stirred up. They add to the equation which brings additional funding to the fire district.

      The service need versus revenue needs to be quantified. Take your figure of 600 homes and lets think a minute about what that really means to the district as far as overall impact (expense) versus overall revenue (cost).

      If 600 homes are added to the tax rolls that means they pay into the fire district every year. 100 percent of the parcels pay.

      Out of those 600 homes how many actual calls would they generate each year? 10, 40 or even 150? At the best or worst case scenario the added homes generate 100 percent revenue and only 25 percent would require a service call.

      I view it as a net positive, since the firefighters are already being funded to be on duty and respond to emergency calls. The only added expense would be any supplies used, wear and tear and fuel.

      A “facility fee, or CFD would be nice but unfair. Why would new areas which help defer costs be subject to being taxed twice (property tax and a BAD/CFD/facility fee)? Makes no sense unless you are simply trying to defer your share of the costs.

  25. Based on east county today numbers the district responded to a average of 18calls a day for service times all the days in the month. There were not a whole lot of fires, because it’s winter. Now let’s fast forward to this summer. We have been in a drought for how long? Now everything is burning, everywhere. Does everyone realize everything is burning everywhere. Who is available to help us. People wake up. Turn out the lights the party is over.

    • You think ahead. The sad fact is many people don’t.

      If it’s not burning all round them right this minute they don’t see a problem.

    • With the recent drought we have experienced, it appears that much of the grasslands have died off prematurely. This has occurred in the primary phase of the growing cycle. While new grass will grow and dormant grass will re grow, the net effect is less grass or what would be deemed to be less fuel. This would appear to puts us in a slightly better situation when it comes to pending wildfires. With that. In mind, they will still occur right on schedule, but may not be as severe as they would if we had steady growth throughout the winter and into spring.

  26. In da know I guess that’s how you got your name. You know it all. And you are a ecologist too. No matter what challenges are brought up someone always has a answer. The idea of three fire stations scares me so much, regardless of how much grass you think there is to burn.

  27. I agree 100% in regards to President Wells recommendation. It is a win win for both the Fire Departments and the Public.

Comments are closed.