Five Cities firefighting costs escalating

February 25, 2014

five cities fireBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

The cities of Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach and the community of Oceano merged their fire departments in 2010 with the intent of saving money, but the resulting Five Cities Fire Authority (FCFA) may soon cost residents more than their original agencies did.

The merger of the three fire departments saves residents of the communities a combined total of approximately $300,000 yearly, according to Five Cities Fire Authority Chief Mike Hubert. But, the Fire Authority is currently asking voters to adopt an assessment fee totaling more than $1 million annually.

“The ballot measure is for increased services,” Hubert said when asked how the FCFA would continue to save residents money.

Hubert also said that he conservatively estimated the annual savings created by the 2010 merger and that the individual cities estimated more in savings.

If adopted, the assessment will impose a $66 fee on all properties in the three communities. The fee can increase annually due to a 4 percent cost of living adjustment built into the assessment.

The FCFA board would determine each year whether to grant the 4 percent increase. The board consists of a representative of both the Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach city councils and the Oceano Community Services District board. Currently, Arroyo Grande Councilman Joe Costello, Grover Beach Council Bill Nichols and Oceano CSD director Karen White sit on the board.

Upon creation in 2010, the fire authority had a budget of under $3.4 million. Within two years, the budget increased nearly $1 million to more than $4.3 million. If the assessment passes, the budget will likely rise above $4.5 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

Critics equate the proposed assessment to a bailout because the fire authority is asking the public to replace one-time funds used to hire firefighters.

In 2012, the FCFA obtained a two-year, $1.2 million grant from FEMA. While applying for the grant, the fire authority understated its revenue from its three partner agencies, according to city and community service district financial statements.

The FCFA then used the grant to hire six firefighters. The grant expires in September, and the fire authority says it needs the assessment in order to retain the firefighters.

“We’d like to keep that personnel,” Hubert said.

The FCFA also needs to replace a fire engine and other old equipment, according to an engineer’s report on the assessment. If the assessment passes, the agency is likewise promising an improved dispatch system.

Critics of the fire authority’s financial management also allege that the agency is campaigning for the assessment to pass. The FCFA mailed five-page booklets along with all ballots earlier this month that include pictures of firefighters at work and a statement on why the funding measure is necessary.

The fire authority also created a Facebook page last summer, which it has used to promote the proposed assessment.

Prior to the distribution of the ballots, Arroyo Grande resident Otis Page submitted an opposition statement to the ballot measure and asked Hubert to include it in the mailers to property

“It is consistent with fair practices that pro and con statements are normally attending any issues of grave importance to the citizens,” Page wrote to Hubert.

The fire authority’s counsel said there was no reason to include an opposition statement, Hubert said.

Critics also accuse the agency of having pressured its board into placing the proposed assessment on the ballot. About 25 firefighters showed up in uniform to a late December board meeting on the assessment.

“You have a whole bunch of guys in uniform who you don’t want to tell no, looking at you,” said Los Osos resident Julie Tacker. “I think it’s intimidating for board members.”

Property owners in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano received the assessment ballots earlier this month. They have until April 4 to turn in the ballots. A majority vote will determine whether or not the assessment passes.

 

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87 Comments

  1. NorthCountyDude says:

    Oceano needs to merge with Arroyo Grande or Grover Beach. Oceano is always poorly mismanaged and the planning there is terrible. And Ms. Peterson, the three communities together are not 35,000 population. It’s about 38,000 population for all three. I believe closer to 39,000 population in 2014.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. madmaxx says:

    Having read so many of these comments – I find it very amusing reading them all. It is clear that some commenters have personal/political agendas to support. Reading Debbie Peterson’s comments, she claims she is a stickler for fiscal accountability – if she crunches her fiscal numbers like she changes her population numbers ( one time the population for the serviced area is 35,000 the next time the population is 45,000 to 50,000) I would be very suspect of ANY fiscal results she mentions. She should also get ALL her facts straight concerning the requirements for fire department service to local communities. Reading slojo’s comments, it is apparent he is so pro fire dept. he cannot help himself from spouting all sorts of supposed facts which are untrue. His comments concerning volunteer fire departments is totally off base. A majority of this country is serviced by volunteer fire departments. Most all of them are very very professional, many of them are more professional and better trained than many full time paid departments. But, like in any profession, one can find poorly trained volunteer departments and also poorly trained full time departments – most of that is dependent on the leadership of the organization. His comments concerning emergency medical service responses is also off base. Yes, some fire departments do provide ambulance service to the community, but most do not, they rely on private ambulance companies. In most cases, fire departments do provide initial emergency medical response, but IF the dispatch center is trained appropriately – they dispatch the ambulance service at the same time as they dispatch the fire department.

    Anyway, enough on the comments, I could go on forever and ever on them. Now the budget. I reviewed the budget as posted on the Five Cities FD website – and if it were my budget, I could see many cost saving areas. One of my first questions is why does this small community area have a 100 foot aerial/ladder truck. There is no logical reason for it – there are no high rise structures here that would require it. The costs associated with purchase/operation/maintenance/testing of this vehicles is very high. But, it is the “THING” to have one – shows how big a fire department you are??????? What was the full time staffing prior to consolidation at Oceano FD – what is it now on a daily basis? If this fire department has financial issues, why does it pay so much extra money for the gold leaf lettering and scroll work on the side of their equipment? Why do the fire fighters use a fire truck to do grocery shopping ( I know slojo says you would deny them their meals) no, like any other job, you come to work prepared – bring your food and prepare it at the station, it’s not like they did not know they were going to be at work during meal times – and those big trucks don’t get the best fuel mileage and do require expensive maintenance. I also see them cruising around neighborhoods and stopping at personal residences during the day – why is that?

    Bottom line is that like many commenters in here, I’m concerned about a proposal to raise taxes with no sunset clause in it. An open ended ability to raise the rates every years ( its not like local politicians are frugal with your money ) and they will; no guarantee that the same monies currently allocated to the fire authority will continue from each community with appropriate cost living increases each year – so they could begin to reduce the amount of money provided and rely on this ‘special’ assessment money instead, no mention that if the fire authority asks for and gets more GRANT money that this special assessment money or tax would be refunded ( so they get twice the money then); also concerned that opposition to this proposed assessment was not give the opportunity to reply to the cute little pro pamphlet that was enclosed with the ballot – if they have nothing to hide and are so sure of their stance – it could be supported even with opposition comments.

    I take nothing away from the work/job firefighters do – but we’ve become to commonplace in putting them on a pedestal and calling them heroes – they are not heroes ( some may be in certain circumstances ) on a daily basis, they are doing what they get paid to do – their job! Inspite what slojo says – yes, they do spend a many of their hours on duty watching tv, playing cards, cooking/eating, etc. That does not mean these times are not interrupted by emergency responses – but that is what they get paid for. Inspite of what we are told, and it is an all too common theme by emergency workers – the sky will not fall, the world will not end, and life will go on as we know it if this tax is not approved. Until/unless they choose to ask for reasonable solutions to their financial problems and clean up their current waste and be honest with the voters – VOTE NO !!!!!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. kayaknut says:

    I have made multiple calls trying to get my ballot, and no luck yet. The FCFA says I have been the only call regarding a missing ballot, I know a few others who also did not receive their ballots and called so I tend to not believe the FCFA. If how they have handled this election so far is any indication on how well the manage their agency and how they would handle this tax if approved, we are all in big trouble. A reasonable person should vote “NO” on this new tax at least until the FCFA gets the own house in order, cuts salaries and benefits and starts living within their budgets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  4. 2much says:

    UNBELIEVABLE! How can any community this size possibly justify additional firefighters? I would like to see how many ACTUAL fires the firefighters have responded to. For years these agencies have “Padded” their stats by responding to every stubbed toe and skateboarders scratched knee not fires. They do this with lights and sirens blaring (putting the public at risk) and drive fire engines with gigantic ladders that get maybe one or two miles per gallon.

    Grover Beach, Arroyo grande and Pismo Beach all have their own fully manned stations (Pismo has two) as well as CDF (or whatever they call themselves now) have stations in Oceano, Nipomo, Avila and the mesa. All these stations have big kitchens, work out rooms and overtime budgets to maintain their minimum staffing levels. I have seen, first hand, the response of these agencies who are stepping all over each other just so they can report increased numbers of “Calls for service” to justify their existence.

    Time to consolidate the efforts, stop playing on the fears of the uninformed public by telling us there will be a delay in response if we don’t continue to fund their individual empires. I say…Reduce the tax burden by combining your efforts and stop spending money on a “Use it or loose it” mentality. Thats my money…STOP IT!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

    • debbie peterson says:

      Indeed. The public should be accurately informed. Here are the facts.

      The Five Cities Fire Authority three stations serve a population of about 35,000 in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, and Oceano. It does not serve Avila, Nipomo, the Mesa, or the CDF area.

      Pismo Beach, with a population of about 7,000 is served by two stations, arguably necessary because of the distance between north Shell Beach and south Pismo Beach.

      FCFA stations are staffed by 3 firefighters each. Two of these are funded by the SAFER grant. It will expire shortly, and the funds are needed not to add employees, but to keep these two positions.

      These positions are necessary to meet the federal ‘two in-two out’ standard. You will see two or more engines at a fire, depending on its severity because with limited staffing trucks have only two firefighters per truck, so it takes one truck for every two firefighters at a fire, with four firefighters being the minimum safe number.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

      • falconbh says:

        The Spin…

        Two in Two Out

        1. It is just that a “standard” not the Law.

        2. This standard was developed by an organization made up by a majority of firefighter organizations themselves.

        3. Most departments do not meet this standard, Because of the cost !

        4. Probably more important, it is how you count. Is it the three on the truck ? do you add the supervisor ? do you add the driver ? So the number is all in how you count!

        The real problem is not more taxes. It is that current compensation levels, benefits,
        early pensions, and retiree costs, that were promised and that cities are bankrupting themselves trying to pay. The middle class tax base is gone. With it has brought the cities and state trying to find new revenues to pay for services.

        Many cities and districts have started a process to have a measure placed on the ballot to allow them ” To Change Pension and Compensation for Both Current and Retired Employees”. The simple fact is that many cities in growing numbers, find themselves in a position that most of their budget are obligated to pay salaries and benefits, with little left for maintenance or infrastructure.

        Governor Brown stated three decades of increasing taxes to get PERS State Retirement solvent. Warren Buffett, recently stated that these pensions are a financial time bomb for local and state government.

        I want to make it clear that this is Not a personal attack on Public Employees or the Fire Department. I certainly oppose this backroom tax process by the FCFA and Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Oceano. The funding for the department should come from existing taxes and general revenues. They are a priority service and should be treated with respect. Marching the Chief and Firefighters out to front for a Tax Increase is poor public policy !

        We need a new balanced approach in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, and Oceano.
        One that provides a budget based on our current revenues. I believe we should keep our promises to retirees. Then make changes in compensation that allows for equipment, maintenance, and infrastructure to meet future needs for cities and districts in the budget framework.

        Thank You

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

      • falconbh says:

        Two More Costly Pensions….

        Certainly a lot of lower cost options to hire staff without additional New Extra Tax.

        The Federal Grant should have never been used to hire more staff.
        Common practice is to use the one time funds for one time equipment and training.

        Taxpayers are under attack and do not have the extra money to keep funding bailouts for mismanagement and poor long range financial planning.

        What is Next?

        Grover Beach Road Tax ?
        Convention Center Tax ?
        Police Station Tax ?
        Sanitation Bailout Tax ?
        Cuesta College Tax ?
        Water Tax ?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

        • olegaucho says:

          A quick search for SAFER Grant on google reveals that the only use for the grant is to hire/ retain employees. There are other grants that pay for equipment. So, the only possible practice for these particular one-time funds was to hire people. Do some research to back up your claims.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

      • 2much says:

        I think your missing my point Debbie. Im not concerned which “Authority” governs what. My point is proximity. Avila is minutes from Pismo, who is minutes from Grover,AG who are minutes Oceano who are minutes from… well you get the point. This bond measure will increase the budget by about a million dollars, thats pretty expensive for two firefighters, especially when there are at least five firefighters just a couple minutes away with ten more moving into a position to assist if needed.
        Fiscal responsibility has to start somewhere, It is my opinion that we, as a community, need to develop new ways to save rather than new ways to spend.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

        • falconbh says:

          As a elected offical in Grover Beach, I appreciate your comments and point of view.

          At the same time your comments really give us insight into how this new extra tax is even on the ballot.

          I wish you luck in your future campaigns for office.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      • slojo says:

        Mrs. Peterson, what you should be concerned with is imrpoving your public safety services by adding paramedics to your Fire Departments. With all the tourists who visit the central coast year round, there is certainly a need for it.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

      • Mr. Holly says:

        You fail to mention the mutual aid agreements that all of these departments have. Upon receiving a call, say for a structure fire, almost all fire stations within a given radius are called out. This policy allows for a saturation of all local departments to assist each other. With the small geographical areas involved here there is ample responses to emergencies.
        As stated in an earlier post regarding statistics it would really be interesting to know how often our local firefighters actually put themselves in danger when entering a building burning. Locally we only hear of a few burning buildings during the year whereas in larger cities it is a daily happening.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

        • slojo says:

          You keep focusing on only fires. To think fires are the only thing firefighters do is stupid. That’s funny, how often does a firefighter actually put themselves in danger when entering a burning building? EVERY TIME!!!!!!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

      • Local1 says:

        More Facts:

        Does the fixed cost of a Fire Station change if you go on more or less calls or have a bigger population per station??

        Answer is NO.

        FCFA is basing budget numbers (Authority Cities,District) on number of calls and population. This does not work when there is a “Fixed” cost associated for every employee on duty every day. In essence Oceano Pays 700K roughly and Grover pays 1.2 million roughly for the same 3 people on duty each day. So in reality “business” world would recognize this as Arroyo and Grover are paying the difference for Oceano to have the same staffing. The original 300K savings was False whe it was formed as there was no plan for Equipment or Engine replacement.
        If you take the original 300K savings(from merger which did not exist) and have Oceano pay the “Actual Personnel Costs” for the extra people like Grover of 500K roughly then you have the 800K needed without a Assessement!!

        Why does Oceano pay almost half for the same 3 person staffing as Grover??? Thats the QUESTION. Remember the employees cost a certain amount (salary,benefits)weather they go on 100 or 2 calls and serve 3000 people or 10000 people.

        Stations are a fixed cost ( cost for 1,2,3,4 people)not based on calls and population but rather a real world Dollar amount.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • falconbh says:

      ‘ Pismo Beach , Two {2} Stations, Population 7000, Cal Fire.

      No Extra New Fire Tax in Pismo Beach ! ! !

      Thanks for the” support” on the NO Vote on this New Extra Tax.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      • falconbh says:

        Democratic Election

        Lets just have an open election process where everyone gets an “equal vote”, and each city can decide if they want FCFA or Cal Fire [ like pismo, avila,nipomo] .

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. falconbh says:

    New Extra Tax

    Since the new extra tax is Not ” ad volorum” it is Not tax deuctable like majority of the property tax bill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. falconbh says:

    Tax Freedom Day

    Most of us will work from January 1 to April 26, just to earn enough to pay all our taxes.

    The one thing we have all learned is that all these extra Taxes, Fees, and Bonds add up to one Big Tax Burden !

    Vote No- New Tax
    Vote No- Undemocratic Process

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

    • jdinag says:

      here’s what I have a problem with………. in all my years of voting I have always cast my ballot in a the privacy of a voting booth. Can someone tell me why as a property Owner I need to
      send in my ballot and sign my name telling the FCFA how I voted ? I would much rather have a ballot that is perforated down the middle with my name / parcel number on one side and my vote ( that I mail in ) on the other……… it’s nobody’s business how I vote.
      I have a call into the League of Women Voters with that question.

      By the way, I’m voting “NO”……. if they want more money they can go back to the city
      councils / community district for more money out of the general funds………

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

      • Julie says:

        All votes will be public record. The assessment material doesn’t explain that, does it?

        So your neighbors will know who passed this assessment or who didn’t. It is a very divisive process. I would not be surprised if Arroyo grande and Grover Beach voters vote “yes” while Oceano voters vote “No”. Of course, the ballot is not available in Spanish, so there will probably less of a turnout there too.

        My experience in Los Osos with property owner votes have been relative to the sewer and have been very divisive; the town is split by those who can afford the sewer and those who cannot. We know who voted, how much property they own and how they cast their votes.

        One thing I have always found problematic with this process is that the public agencies own a tremendous amount of property. Much of it large parcels, carrying heavier weight than my single family vote. The agencies get to vote their weight. We, as taxpayers, pay those assessments and if the political bodies in place vote in the affirmative, they help carry the vote as heavy weights, and we get to pay for their property too.

        Additionally, and this happened in my first marriage, my husband and I differed on our position on the sewer. We were joint property owners. We made the agency split the ballot in half, making the weight of each of our votes 1/2. It was a complicated process, but we did it and felt good about it.

        In my opinion, the FCFA Board didn’t ask enough questions. They didn’t even meet in October and November having let the contract to develop the Engineer’s Report on September 27 (there are no minutes on the website) and not again until December 20 (minutes reveal the meeting lasted less than 20 minutes) where they voted to start the process to mail the ballots, very little discussion took place. In fact, Director White said, “We’ve talked about it enough.” Additionally, these questions were not vetted at the member agencies to gather each Council/Board’s consensus; this would have given the public the opportunity to participate in their hometown and at the FCFA. This simply didn’t happen.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. debbie peterson says:

    I’m a stickler for fiscal accountability. In this case I support the request for more funding.

    The FCFA serves a community with a population of 45-50,000. $66 a year per homeowner works out at $5.50 a month. Contrary to Julie’s assertions, the numbers were crunched, and the current set up is less expensive than using Cal Fire. Furthermore, it keeps control local, rather than using a state agency to run our fire service.

    I do not see squandered resources here. Here’s what I see:

    On each shift, at each of the three stations one of the firefighters is a reserve paid $10-12 an hour with no benefits.

    For two years the department joined Grover Beach employees and the other cities in pay cuts of 5% to help balance our budgets. This made a big difference to all three cities.

    The extra funding will allow for a capital fund to accrue to replace equipment as it ages, and to fund two-in, two-out staffing. Personally, I’m not comfortable asking anyone to go into a dangerous situation without a buddy system and back up in place, and when lives and property are at risk I want to know that we are using the best possible equipment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 28

    • Julie says:

      It’s only $66 THIS year Debbie. It will go up each year in perpetuity. There is no sunset.

      Bill Nichols spoke at a FCFA meeting and promised an analysis of the savings before the vote, where is it?

      You did NOT get a quote from CalFire, if you used the per-capita numbers against Pismo as I have been told, you were comparing apples to oranges. Costs can not be compared per-capita. You can only compare levels of service.

      The ratepayer deserves this comparison. You would still have the FCFA it would contract with CalFire, there is no handing over “control” to anyone.

      I base my opinion on the very successful results we have experienced here in Los Osos. We have an even higher level of service that FCFA, yet, again, without apples and apples comparison, even my example isn’t fair.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

      • slojo says:

        Julie, would paramedic services still be included (by Cal Fire)?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

        • Julie says:

          As I understand it, FCFA does not use paramedics. They do have EMT’s and paramedic services come from San Luis Ambulance, correct me if I’m wrong.

          CalFire can provide whatever level of service the community desires, the quote for contract services that would vary to first look at the apples to apples; what price would the three communities pay for the exact same services they were getting pre-SAFER grant, another with the SAFER firefighters and another with an increased level of service that might include paramedics. But, these are the questions the representatives from the three communities should be asking and getting answers for. The quote could possibly still suggest a an assessment is necessary, but I can almost guarantee it would be less than the $66 you face today.

          The similarity I see with the current FCFA Board is what I saw here in Los Osos pre-2004 when the Board “bought” everything the then chief was selling. It took a strong citizen effort to force the Board to ask for the quote so that we, as a community, could then decide if we wanted the same for less or more service with a nominal increase. Today, 8 years after we passed the Special Tax in 2005 we are still paying almost $50 a year less than the original tax proposed in the 2004 election that failed.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

      • debbie peterson says:

        The numbers have been available at several meetings of community organizations, which are much better attended than agency meetings. The ballot also indicates an opportunity to go to an additional two meetings for more information.

        It’s good that you are happy with your service in the Los Osos CSD. Our joint authority was a collaboration of local firefighters, two cities and a CSD. This is our local choice that is widely supported.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

        • Julie says:

          Debbie,

          I follow Oceano CSD very closely and NOT ONCE have these important items been discussed. The number $66 (first year only), the fact that the ballot (not available in Spanish) is public record, you are allowed to change your vote all the way up to April 4 and the fact that the FCFA Board doesn’t have to accept the vote should it pass, been in front of that Board before the Authority took action to impose the assessment (Dec. 20). The FCFA Board should reject the assessment until the Cal Fire quote is gotten.

          Without a apples to apples caparison with Cal Fire, your communities don’t have enough information to pass the assessment. If you had a Cal Fire quote, you likely wouldn’t need what you are asking from the ratepayer…the same ratepayer you want to tax themselves for new streets in GB and all three agencies will need to get behind the SSLOCSD rate increase later this year to over the cost of the upgrades at the sewer plant and the past costs associated with the spill and defending the district from the RWQCB fine. The risk you run is that just one of these “Tax” will pass and the others; for equally vital services will not pass.

          It’s too bad the global picture wasn’t laid out for these ratepayers, they would get to prioritize their vote. If their leaders had had this larger discussion the FCFA might not be taking this route.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • kayaknut says:

      Also, Ms. Peterson, please check into why a large number of homeowners seemed to have not received their mail in ballot. Could there be a plan to keep the number received low to better the chances of hitting the magic 50% +1? Let’s certainly hope the ballots that have gone out are not to specially selected homes in hope to better the chances of passing yet another tax, with no sunset clause, and a yearly increase with no further voter approval needed.

      Do at least a certain percentage of homeowner ballots need to be received to make the vote official, something in the neighborhood of 80% or more? If not, then again it is not a majority of total possible voters but just of those that actually received the ballots and sent back, and that is a problem.

      Without reasonable answers I will be voting “No”, that is if I can figure out how to get my ballot since it was not sent to me.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

    • jdinag says:

      here’s a question……. why don’t firefighters work three shifts like the P.D. ? If we did that we would just need a small building that didn’t have bunk rooms, T.V. rooms, kitchen, workout
      room and a pole to slide down………

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    • obispan says:

      Why does a fire department require “local control”? What is there to “control”, “locally”? Why are the savings of consolidation not realized? Just askin’.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. slodoc says:

    The honest truth is that there is absolutely no need for fire to respond to the medical calls which San Luis Ambulance are responding to. This is not a popular topic to bring up, but, I am in a position to make that judgement. Just the facts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

    • slojo says:

      Wow. Tell that to the woman who’s husband is having a heart attack. The fire department will be there in less than 4 minutes while SLO Ambulance takes longer. The ambulance can have an eta of over 10 minutes at times and you as a doctor should know that every minute counts.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

      • Mr. Holly says:

        The reason for the delay with the ambulance is that the FD is called first so that they can be considered the first responders. Because of that the ambulance has to give the FD a kickback.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

        • slojo says:

          So then why do we even have a private ambulance company? Why don’t we have our fire departments transport like other FD agencies?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

          • Mr. Holly says:

            I think a paramedic for the ambulance company is paid around $50k to $60k a year where the cost to taxpayers for a firefighter is close to double that. Then there would be the cost of the ambulance itself. And then the kicker would be that the firefighters would want additional firefighters hired to supplement the staffing. And to stretch it a little it would probably require upgrades to all of the firehouses to house the additional employees.
            Pretty simple, the firefighters would love to handle all of the calls. Consequently the same service provided now by the ambulance company would probably more than double were the firefighters be responsible to provide the service.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

            • slojo says:

              The ambulance now is essentially a taxi service, a very expensive taxi service. The average ride is $2,000. What happens is you call 911 for a medical emergency, SLO City FD shows up, treats you to sustain your life, waits for the taxi, loads you in and goes in the back of the taxi with you to the hospital while continuing treatment. SLO Ambulance, not the FD, sends you a fat bill and the owner of SLO Ambulance is sitting on a beach in Maui sipping a cocktail.
              And have you seen the firehouses? All of them are in need of major improvements except of course station 1 where management and dispatch works. Nothing but the best for management.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

        • olegaucho says:

          Kickbacks and delays in dispatch? Your preposterous claims that unfortunately far too many people likely mistake for somewhat truthful information literally gets exponentially more and more fucking ridiculous as you blather and blather about every article on this web site. Find something more productive to do with your time you troll. It is pathetic.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          • Mr. Holly says:

            I would suggest that you check with your local jurisdiction and ask what the amount is that they have received from the ambulance company for being the first responders. I know that where I live it’s around $465 per call and over $100,000 a year. It’s all documented please go look for yourself and maybe that will help you figure this whole thing out.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • obispan says:

      It’s not about service, it’s about jobs, benefits, and leverage to maximize them. The “America’s heroes” line pretty much cuts off any cost/benefit analysis or reconfiguration. I would think that the same individuals who provide emergency medical service could also respond to the rare structure fire, but I guess not.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. TheNekkidTruth says:

    Here’s the NekkidTruth:

    When this merger was first proposed I asked in a Grover Beach City Council Meeting:
    “Will this result in any increase in any fees I have to pay?”

    Bill Nicolls said, and I quote “I garuntee you that you will NEVER have any fees increased as a result of this merger”. Bill NIcoll either lied, or… is incompetent.. or both.

    If you look at he way he covered up the money laundering during his tenure as the Grover Beach City Council’s representative to the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board of Director’s, it ‘s obvious that he’s unethical and will toe the “good ol’ boy” line. Hence, his fierce defense of former District Adminsitrator John Wallace.

    Even after Nicolls was personally approacehd by the Plant Superintendant, Shift Supviser, Laboratory Technician (who also won the CWEA Laboratory Tech of the Year Award), Senior Operator, and several Operator II’s, and was told that District Adminstrator Wallace was mismanaging Public Funds, he continued to support the District Administrator.

    It took many, many, years before the crooks at the City of Bell were finally arrested and thrown in jail. I have personal, inside informatin that the Office of the Attorney General is currently preparing subpeionas and warrants of writ and fully intends to prosecure John Wallce, Bill Nicolls and Tony ferraroooo for mismanagment of Public funds.

    Karma’s a Bitch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

    • mbactivist1 says:

      That’s great news. The wheels of justice, as they say, move slowly, but at least it sounds like they are moving.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

    • falconbh says:

      If this unfair process is successful, it will not be long until you will see a New Road Tax in
      Grover Beach, Conference Center Tax for infrastucture improvements, The New Cuesta College Tax, Police Tax, Sanitation Tax, Water Tax, Pension Bailout Tax and the list will grow !

      If this tax is so little, then why is each city not funding it with general tax revenues that we already paid for these services before this cost saving merger ?

      Do not see this New Extra Tax in San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Nipomo, or even Pismo Beach !

      Vote No- New Extra Tax
      Vote No- Undemocratic Process
      Vote No- Double Taxation
      Vote No- Bailout Tax

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

      • obispan says:

        San Luis Obispo DOES have an “extra tax”, one that was not necessary given SLO City’s wealth and waste, and was were assured would be project specific and temporary. Now to become permanent.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

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