Home » Island News

City budget fire fight

Submitted by on 1, June 17, 2008 – 7:30 amNo Comment

Alameda’s firefighters are none too pleased with city officials’ plan to cut overtime as part of their effort to close a $4 million budget gap, and they’ve mounted a full-court press in an effort to get the city to provide what they feel is a safe level of staffing. The $820,000 in proposed overtime cuts would likely mean rolling brownouts at the Island’s fire stations. Jeff DelBono, a firefighter/paramedic and representative of the local firefighters’ union, says that even city-funded reports show that the Alameda Fire Department’s staffing is already at bare minimum levels; he says that to provide less service would jeopardize our safety. DelBono wants the city to staff eight firefighting positions it froze in 2005. He says it will help curtail overtime which now averages about 480 hours a year per person, much of it mandated to maintain current staffing levels. “Our association has asked multiple times for them to staff our department. They have refused to do that,” DelBono says. “Now they want to blame us for the out-of-control overtime. They can’t blame us for this.” City Manager Debra Kurita says the city is only responding to the economic downturn and its impact on the city’s budget, and that public safety makes up a big portion of that budget. “At such a large share of the budget, it is simply not possible to close the gap between our revenues and our expenditures without affecting the police and fire department’s budgets,” Kurita says. “We will continue to staff the department and deploy our resources to the best of our ability while making sure that we live within our means.” The firefighters offer their point of view on this (and a petition to halt the cuts) here; the city’s budget docs are here. The City Council will discuss this issue and more at what I’m sure is going to be a packed meeting tonight.

And while we’re talking budget, get ready for everybody and their brother to reach into your wallet in the coming year. The prices for services you’ve come to know and love are going up, up, up! First in line are the folks at Alameda Power & Telecom, who want to raise cable and Internet rates, about three bucks a month for each. Next up are the Alameda/Oakland and Harbor Bay ferries, whose fuel costs have escalated to the point that they want an extra 50 to 75 cents a ticket for a one-way ride (10-15 cents less if you buy the ticket book). Last up is the city council, which is considering increasing the potential annual increase in what it charges for its panoply of services to 5 percent a year (and get ready to pay for that City Hall wedding, folks). The city may also consider a parcel or some other kind of user tax for the November ballot. Stay tuned …

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.