Posts Tagged fire district may consider part-time staffing

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news (more)

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The Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District Board voted recently to have some firefighters work part time and some remain full time. Board President Robert Handley said nine of the 24 firefighters will work part time, and 15 will be full time through the contract with Public Safety Services Inc. Part time means 30 hours a week instead of 40 for the full-time firefighters, Handley said. The board moved to a part-time model to save money.

“We decided to transition it … to less guys over a period of time,” Handley said. “It’s what our captains were comfortable with at this point.” He said the rough estimate of savings is $60,000 to $70,000.

After Fire Chief Carl DeLeo resigned recently, two captains are handling the chief’s responsibilities until a new chief can be hired, Handley said.

Handley said the district has to be able to set money aside to pay for equipment that needs to be replaced and the district likely will ask voters for a tax increase in April 2017.

“We’ll see how that floats with the residents,” Handley said. “We want to see how we shake out financially.”

At its January meeting, about 60 people packed the fire district’s board meeting to protest the part-time plan. Some criticized the board for not trying again on the primary ballot. A previous referendum request in April 2015 failed.

Two firefighters left when officials announced the move to have nine firefighters be part time.

“We lose guys all the time, because our pay is not where everyone else’s pay is,” Handley said “They work for us at $45,000 [a year], when they can go to St. Charles and make $75,000 to $80,000.”

Handley said most firefighters were happy to hear not all were going to go part time.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, but I think we are going to be OK,” Handley said. “We’ve got a great group of guys who are loyal and committed. I just wish we could pay them more.”

The board also accepted the appointments of Carl Herout and Tom Mullenhauer to fill the board vacancies.

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Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news (more)

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Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District trustees Thursday night voted in a partial, part-time staffing model for fire and ambulance service. The staffing change appeared to be a compromise between what district trustees think may be needed to keep the lights on and what residents told trustees they would not accept at a recent meeting. Trustees had originally planned to implement an all part-time staff. Instead, they converted only some of the rescue staff to part-time status.

The district contracts out with a private company for fire and ambulance staffing. Moving forward, that staffing will see five people, one captain and four firefighter/paramedics at each of the district’s stations around the clock. That staff will be augmented by no fewer than three part-time employees. Those part-time employees will have all the same training as the full-time staff. Many of them will be full-time firefighter/paramedics at other area departments.

“This will save us money, but not as much as we had hoped,” said district President Bob Handley. “It’s a stopgap measure.”

With less savings, Handley said the district will seek a tax increase referendum, most likely in April 2017. If the tax increase request fails, as have all the district’s recent tax increase attempts, Handley said the next step would be implementing a completely part-time staff.

The staffing vote followed the appointment of two new trustees. Carl “Rudy” Herout and Tom Mollenhauer fill the slots recently vacated by the resignations of Trustee Terry Jeglum and former district President Jim Gaffney.

Trustees also announced they will appoint two existing staff members as interim co-chiefs while they begin the search for a new, full-time fire chief.

More updates on the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District can be found HERE

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Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news (more)

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About 60 people packed the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District meeting Monday to state their concerns with a staffing plan they said would result in fewer full-time firefighters and possibly longer response times.

Paul Ross, formerly a captain on the department, chastised the board for considering such a plan and said firefighters were concerned about losing medical coverage, sick and vacation days, retirement benefits and seniority.

“As I began to see the shortcomings in his [Fire Chief Carl DeLeo] proposed plan, I offered suggestions to try to mitigate the concerns that I, and other officers, had, as well as serious safety issues with regards to potential staffing and future response capabilities, … Make no mistake, you are about to lay off 18-plus employees who have families to support,” Ross said.

Ross said during his last several years with the district, his duties included hiring all part-time staff to supplement the full-time members. “The department has a 75 percent turnover rate for part time staff and today, after employing 50-plus part-time members, we have nine that are still with the department,” Ross said.

District resident Julie Riffle of Campton Hills criticized the board for suggesting to pay firefighters “less than someone working at McDonald’s.”

Board President Bob Handley said the part-time staffing model was necessary because the district had to cut costs by $200,000 to $300,000, and the staffing model proposed for the Fox River district is the same one used by Pingree Grove, McHenry, Evergreen Park and McHenry.

“This model is not going to leave the distrcit any less safe,” Handley said.

thanks Dan

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Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news

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The Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District barely mustered a quorum Monday night, with three trustees in attendance, to make the decision not to hold a March referendum.

The trustees terminated a contract with the district’s fire and ambulance service provider, Public Safety Systems, Inc. Fire Chief Carl DeLeo and the trustees confirmed the district will convert to a part-time fire and ambulance staff. A similar operating model exists in other nearby departments like Pingree Grove and Huntley. DeLeo said the fire district can save up to $300,000 a year with the change. If the savings are true, trustees said they may forgo their next shot at putting a tax increase question on the ballot next November.

Trustees and Ken Shepro, the district’s attorney, debated a resolution opposing the pending drug and alcohol treatment center that wants to be at the former Glenwood School property just outside of Campton Hills. Shepro told trustees he expects the facility will generate “a couple hundred ambulance calls” a year. That would be a burden not anticipated for the district’s aging equipment. Jim Gaffney, who resigned as president of the district in October, said the calls from the new treatment center would fund the purchase of a new ambulance if the emergency call volume hit Shepro’s expectations.

Trustees said they planned to attend the public hearing on the treatment center with the Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals later Monday night.

thanks Dan

Click the link for a reference to many previous posts on budget and staffing issues for the Fox River & Countryside FPD

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Fox River & Countryside FPD wants tax increase (more)

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Another failed tax increase request would be the worst outcome from efforts to maintain the financial solvency of the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District. So to avoid that, district trustees may not ask voters for a tax increase at all. Trustees met with the district’s fire and ambulance service provider, Maryland-based Public Safety Systems Inc., to find a way to cut costs.

“Everybody would love to do the referendum, but it was 3-to-1 against it last time,” said district President Bob Handley. “We know the chance of success is slim. Like any organization, our biggest line item is personnel. So we’re going to look at staffing, but we’ve got to keep the safety of the guys in mind.”

A month ago, trustees introduced the idea of cutting ambulance service. But fire calls represent less than 20 percent of the district’s workload. That makes a change to staffing far more likely, said Ken Shepro, the fire district’s attorney. One option that may make sense is staffing engines and ambulances entirely with a part-time staff. Shepro said several other local departments, including Pingree Grove, use that model and more may be headed that way.

The viability of that model for the district, and its ability to at least defer a tax increase request will be key aspects trustees will weigh in the decision for if and when to hold a referendum. Aside from personnel, the district has some major capital replacement costs looming, including the replacement of a 30-year-old fire engine.

District trustees have until Dec. 28 to put a tax increase question on the March ballot. They will meet Dec. 14 to make a decision.

If trustees don’t put a question on the ballot in March, Shepro said, it’s unlikely voters would see a tax increase question until 2017 at the earliest. Conventional wisdom says most taxing districts should avoid tax increase questions when presidential races are on the ballot. Those elections tend to have higher voter turnouts with more people voting no on tax increases regardless of how much they know about the ballot question.

thanks Dennis

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