Comments of Union Representatives Recorded 1/2/09
CVEA employees provide quality of life services. They work in libraries, recreation centers, fix the street lights, potholes, graffiti, mow the lawns, clean the buildings, paint, fix the computers, type and file, etc.
This is the fourth financial crisis in 15 months. The employees have already suffered from many layoffs. There are now many fewer people trying to do more work.
†††††† Laying off CVEA employees is a public safety issue. The after school programs and the open pools, recreation centers and libraries keep children and teenagers occupied, supervised and out of trouble, as well as supporting the development of academic and healthy living skills. Trimming trees avoids accidents. Keeping trash out of parks and other required maintenance provides a healthy safe place for residents to enjoy. The Park Rangers (who are scheduled to be laid off) make sure that those who reserve spaces in parks get to use them as well as providing supervision to prevent vandalism.
†††††† All services the City Manager is suggesting cutting (by laying off employees) will diminish the quality of life of residents.
†††††† Everyone has to work together to find a long-term solution.
POA (represents 240 employees-sworn police officers),
†††††† Fire employees run a lean organization. The Chula Vista Fire Department comes in last when compared to many other fire departments in a lot of categories. Of 15 cities of about the same size in the state CV ranks 14th in amount of money spent per resident and the amount of fire fighters per resident. Nationally there are 1.5 fire fighters per resident. In the region there are .96 and in Chula Vista only .49 per 1,000 residents. The current proposal by management is to eliminate the fire fighters at 3 stations: 3, 9 and 2. This would gravely impact the ability to protect residents.
Fire: The fire department has ideas to generate revenue but they require a large upfront cost and there is no money at this time to allow for the implementation of this plan.
Police: The city needs to stop looking at the cost of pay of the employees and start looking at the revenue side.
CVEA: Last time the employees gave their ideas to the former City Manager and they were ignored. This time they came up with a shorter list and the city is implementing some of them:
1. Merging Departments- e.g. It makes no sense to have an Office of Budget and a Finance Department or A Public Works Department and a Department of Engineering each with a highly paid Director.
2. Flatten the organization-fewer bosses.
3. Car Allowances-these have become perks. People should be reimbursed for mileage for city business, not receive $900 a month or more.
4. Ways to generate revenue-increase fees for rental of gazebos in parks, city is owed a lot of revenue, increase efforts to collect this money, short term increase in sales tax with an oversight committee of concerned community members to make sure that the money is actually spent on the services the community wants.
Why donít employees pay their share of the pension cost?
Back in the 90ís the unions negotiated with the city for the city to pay percentages of their share in lieu of pay raises until the city was picking up the entire employee share (as well as the substantial city share).
How about closing the jail instead of cutting K-9 and on street crime teams?
Jail has a direct impact on public safety. The county has rules about whom they will take in county jail. In Chula Vista anyone can be taken off the street for 72 hours. With jail officers have a place to put bad guys and get them off of the streets.
Why doesnít the Fire Department run the ambulances and get reimbursed by insurance?
Actually the city and several other cities have two more years on their contract with JPA ambulance service. There would be an expense to start providing ambulance services, but the city has the space at the stations. AMR loses money on 911 calls but makes a lot of money on inter-facility transfers of patients. The Fire Department is looking into how they maybe can provide staff to AMR and get money that way before the contract expires.
Is Chula Vista the Highest paid police force in the county (Years ago the city manager told me this was so)?
The police representative said that they had no way of comparing actual salaries, but looking at advertised salaries Chula Vista is third highest after Oceanside and San Diego. He did not know if they were the highest paid in the past. He does remember when they got significant raises to help them hire people.
The fire representative insisted that the city of Chula Vista has constant staffing of 3 per engine, 4 per truck and if someone is sick or on vacation someone else must fill in on overtime. He said this was cheaper for the city. San Diego has extra personnel, but paying overtime the city does not pay extra benefits so it is cheaper for the city. (What he did not say is that every fire fighter is on a 56-hour workweek, which guarantees 16 hours of overtime weekly. Also one wonders if it is actually necessary to have 3 people for every engine 24/7.)
Do employees pay their medical benefits?
Chula Vista has a cafeteria plan. Each bargaining group gets a set amount of money toward benefits. The employees can choose from a range of plans. If the cost is more than the city provides, the employees pick up the difference.
Is the Search and Rescue vehicle ever used?
The captain answering questions is part of the staff of this vehicle. He said that they go on calls for Brandywine/Olympic Parkway area-Station 9. The vehicle is revenue generating because they hold classes with it where they charge $400 per person. It is partly funded through a Federal grant for the next several years. It was a $900,000 grant. They go on around 1200 calls per year.
The Department gets 14 to 15,000 calls per year. 80% of them are medical the other 20% are fire, rescue, accidents or cleaning up after flooding or spills. Two years ago there were 140 structure fires, but he did not have any current data.
The fire department responds to and helps everyone no matter who you are or where you live. They want everyone to be able to use their services without charge. Otherwise some people would not call and that could be fatal.
Someone suggested Fire Department fund-raisers, tours, festivals, etc.