A sharply divided Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday approved a new three-year contract for firefighters that some members praised as saving the city money by shifting more pension costs onto workers but others criticized as including raises the city couldn’t afford.
Santa Rosa and its firefighters have reached a tentative, nearly three-year labor agreement calling for them to receive salary increases totaling 4.5 percent but also requiring them to pay 12 percent toward their pensions by 2015.
Talks are under way about how three fire agencies should divide a one-time $1.5 million payment that the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria is giving to Sonoma County to address impacts from the casino being built outside Rohnert Park.
For 155 years, Healdsburg has had its own fire department and, despite recent funding struggles, it appears it won’t be going away anytime soon. The City Council this week quickly dismissed the possibility of Cal Fire, the state agency, taking over fire duties in the city.
Dave Albaugh was waiting to hear if his wife’s car was repairable after a collision when he got an unexpected call from his insurance agent. She asked about a $550 bill to reimburse Petaluma for sending emergency personnel to the crash. Albaugh, a retired Coast Guard lieutenant commander, was surprised, thinking his taxes already pay for such public services.
Two Santa Rosa fire stations that are ‘browned out’ because the city can’t afford enough firefighters to fully staff them will be returned to full service soon, thanks to a $2.6 million federal grant.
Santa Rosa has struck sweeping pension agreements with its police and fire unions that are expected to save the city millions in coming years. The tentative agreements, which head to the City Council on March 20, establish lower pension benefits for new workers, increase the amount employees must pay toward their pensions and institute anti-spiking provisions.
Cal-OSHA slapped the Santa Rosa Fire Department with a $2,700 fine after spotting a photo in The Press Democrat of a firefighter standing on the roof without a safety harness. The city is contesting the fine, saying the state’s rules are unclear and not evenly enforced. But OSHA says the law is clear. What do you think?
Fifteen minutes in a burning building was plenty for Santa Rosa City Councilman Scott Bartley to confirm he was never destined for a career in firefighting. ‘I felt like a loaf of French bread in an oven,’ a sweat-drenched Bartley said after exiting the Santa Rosa Fire Department’s live-burn training structure.