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Questions regarding proposed fire department reductions
Patrick Barga 

Ms. Myers, 

Please distribute this message to the members of City Council.  Thank you. 

Respectfully,

Patrick Barga 

Members of Greenville City Council, 

First of all, let me express my thanks for City Council’s recent approval of the re-zoning request on behalf of Trilogy Health Services.  Hopefully, this care center will be an asset to our community for many years to come.  I believe that this re-evaluation is very significant as it demonstrates that the council is willing to accept valid input from the community and respond to the will of the people. 

I attended the Finance Committee meeting of 08/16/12, where attendees were advised that questions for the committee could be submitted via e-mail to the City Auditor.  The following are my current questions and comments regarding the proposed reductions within the Fire Department: 

  The proposed savings of $510,991, including the Police Department secretary and City Building custodian, could be somewhat misleading as it does not appear to take into consideration any potential new costs that may be associated with these personnel reductions. 

It seems very likely that with reduced on-duty personnel, many emergency responses will require the call-in of off-duty personnel, resulting in increased costs for overtime. 

What is the cost of re-starting a Fire Department Auxiliary?  New gear/equipment?  Will training by full-time firefighters be done during their normal duty hours or will it be an additional cost? 

Unemployment compensation and other costs associated with the terminations within a reduction in force. 

  Elimination of the position of Assistant Fire Chief 

I understand that some of this may not be discussed publicly.  The committee proposal is not really clear on the details of this change.  Is the current Assistant Chief to be one of those terminated or will he be replacing one of the existing Captains, resulting in that Captain replacing a Lieutenant, etc.?  As I understand things, the Assistant is not a member of the local union.  What challenges does this present? 

It appeared to me during the meeting that the members of the Finance Committee were somewhat surprised when presented with the fact that the Assistant Fire Chief is currently the only member of the department that is trained and certified to perform building plan reviews and fire protection system inspections.  What is the potential cost of dealing with this situation? 

  Are there any potential pending retirements within the next year that would make some or all of these reductions unnecessary? 

  I feel that the citizens of Greenville deserve a clear explanation of the TRUE savings associated with these potential reductions, not just the superficial sub-total of salaries plus benefits for the positions eliminated.  I believe that it would be shameful for the city to make compromises in citizen safety, not to mention creating life-changing events for those affected, only to find out later on that the actual savings were not nearly what had been expected. 

  I also feel that there should be a discussion of what has transpired since the passage of the city’s most recent tax levy several years ago, one that was passed in order to preserve the existing levels of Police and Fire protection. 

  There has been some discussion about a Joint Fire District, combining the city and township firefighting resources.  In my opinion, this is a total waste of time unless it also includes the Greenville Township Rescue.  If this proposal has a familiar ring, this is the way almost every other city in our area with paid firefighters and paid emergency rescue services operates.  There is no more efficient approach than to have one emergency service, staffed with personnel trained as firefighters and EMTs. 

Thank you for your consideration, 

Patrick L. Barga

Greenville


 
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