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By Miriam Raftery


June 10, 2010 (Spring Valley) – Only ten area residents showed up at a June 3rd meeting convened by San Miguel Fire to discuss a budget crisis facing the District. Chief August Ghio presented a Power Point presentation. Several residents offered suggestions for the District to pare back expenses, said public information officer Leonard Villareal.


Those suggestions included:


• Identify budget target balance line (what does it take to run the District?)
• Formation of Community Oversight Committee
• Eliminate PIO position
• Reduce Fire Chief salary
• Eliminate the Wellness Program
• Eliminate Director benefits
• Eliminate Director pay for meetings
• Cap leave amounts and limit ability to take time off
• Focus on protection from firefighters (ability to respond is priority)
• Rebid employee medical benefits
• Eliminate employee dental insurance
• Reduce employee benefits and salaries
• Priority is to have first line employees
• Use of Reserve Firefighter Program to augment staffing on engines (use non-paid reserves to fill open positions vs. OT)
• Work toward 4 person staffing
• Run district with 1st line responders vs. volunteers
• Every dollar saved counts, no reduction is too small
• Firefighters well paid – if firefighter leaves for better paying district, establish agreements where receiving district to pay losing district for skill set acquired
• Post budget FY 2009/2010 and preliminary budget on District website to include salary schedules. Update as budget is modified
• 30 minute Public Information Opportunity Q&A forum prior to Board meeting; not be part of actual Board meeting. Fire Chief could facilitate with available board members up to 3
• Keep up focus on week/brush abatement in Crest, need prepared community
• Eliminate Director medical and dental benefits which could be used to pay for the PIO position
• Impose contract on employees (wage and benefit decreases)
• More community outreach by Directors and Fire Chief by attending community group meetings

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I bet the people in Crest are really sorry they fell for the come join San Miguel Fire line! I wonder how much of their $250.00 per door knob benefit fee is getting bled off to support the overhead of San Miguel? Like the other unionized public service groups city fire departments do not have a clue how the real world works. With most of them getting paid 40% over non government workers and with medical benefits and retirement benefits none of us in the private sector have ever seen they live in the land of OZ and now all of their departments are broke! From local to state government reality is only a show on TV!