San Miguel Fire District has voted 4-2 against putting a ballot measure on the ballot to reduce the number of board members from seven to five. Members Clark and Jackson voted in favor; Johnston, Augustine, Rickards and Winters voted against. Board member Brainard was absent. Clark, Winter and Augustine have seats up for reelection this fall.
Chief August Ghio said the board weighed information from its attorney, an impassioned plea from a member of the public who spoke against reducing the board, and impacts on the board’s ability to serve the public in making its decision.
“Those who argued against expressed concerned that there is a lot of work in a large district and if we went down to five, would there be enough help? “ said Chief August Ghio, noting that part-time board members already spend many hours serving on various committees and participating in public activities. “If we went to five I think we would have to go to a full-time job.”
The Board also voted by the same 4-2 split not to reduce benefits for the Board at this time, including health and meeting stipend.
Asked what plans the Board members are considering to close the budget gap, Ghio replied, “I’ve given them almost $700,000 in recommendations and we have a committee including labor presidents, members of the board, and my staff. We spent about two or three hours throwing ideas out on the board."Ghio declined to discuss specifics yet, noting, "I’ll be meeting with a finance committee and my staff to flesh out those ideas and see if they are feasible.”