Sun. May 19th, 2024

Opinion and Commentary By Donna Westfall – February 18, 2024

There is no doubt that having a volunteer fire department is needed and wanted. The majority of fire stations across America are staffed by volunteers. There is no doubt that volunteers can get injured and trucks and equipment wear out and break down. There’s no avoiding rust in this area. Not on our homes or on our vehicles and that includes fire trucks.

But, when one fire chief is making $200,000 a year in this small town and wants a bump in his salary and benefits, there is doubt whether now is the time to do that. Ever wonder how many people in our town make $200,000 a year? Not many. Some residents are asking if we can put a ballot measure on to reduce all the government employees salaries/benefits that are making $200,000+ a year. But, I don’t think that’s how it works because of unions, contracts and such. We do know that in regards to the Fire Chief, the City pays half and the Crescent Fire Protection District pays half. Our Fire Chief is under contract. I have not reviewed his contract. Nor have I reviewed the contract between the City of Crescent City and the Crescent Fire Protection District.

Fire Chief Kevin Carey

Meet Fire Chief, Kevin Carey. I’m not saying the guy isn’t worth it. I only met with one volunteer so far and he spoke very highly of him. I’m saying that $200,000 a year is a lot for any government employee in this town. Plus there are other paid positions in our “Volunteer” Fire Department including:

* Three Fire Captains. The City’s 1% sales tax called Measure S pays for them. They work two days on and have four days off. Based on the information included in the agenda packet: Pay Range – Current $68,256 minimum annual and $82,965 maximum annual each. I do not know if this includes benefits at this time.

* Then there’s the Fire Department Admin Specialist. Pay Range – Current $47,050 minimum annual and $57,200 maximum annual. I do not know if this includes benefits at this time.

So there are a total of five paid positions.

And then there are the volunteers.

Let’s just concentrate on the increase for the Fire Chief. Here’s the skinny from the City’s agenda packet for the February 20, 2024 Council meeting:.

Some questions to ask:

Will the Fire Chief resign if he does not get his raise?

Will the volunteers abandon their jobs if he resigns?

Will there be other’s that might be interested in applying for the Fire Chief position at a reduced starting salary?

Is it time for a new Fire Chief?

Or will the City Council approve this increase?

If you have a strong opinion one way or the other, there are several ways to express it besides actually attending the meeting in person which is held at the Flynn Center. This is from the City’s website:

“The public may access and participate in the public meeting using one or more of
the following methods besides actually attending the meeting held at the Flynn Center:

1) The meeting will be streamed via Zoom (details below). The direct Zoom link will also be
posted on the City of Crescent City website (www.crescentcity.org). During the meeting,
public comment may be made by using the raise hand feature on Zoom;
ZOOM PHONE NUMBER: 1 (253) 215-8782

ZOOM WEBINAR ID: 864 4226 0162
MUTE / UNMUTE PRESS *6 RAISE HAND PRESS *9

2) The meeting will also be streamed on YouTube (channel: City of Crescent City, California),
public comment may be made by calling in to the meeting using the Zoom phone number;

3) Public comments may also be made in advance by submitting written comment via
publiccomment@crescentcity.org or by filing it with the City Clerk at 377 J Street, Crescent
City, California, 95531. All public comments (via email or mail) must be received by the
City Clerk prior to 12:00 p.m. the day of the meeting. Please identify the meeting date and
agenda item to which your comment pertains in the subject line. Public comments so
received will be forwarded to the City Council and posted on the website next to the
agenda.
Written public comments will not be read aloud during the meeting.

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