How much more or less will a stand-alone Coastside department cost the community?
There is no additional cost to the community for going to a local department. There is a differential in the salary and benefit portion of the budget which has been estimated to be about $360 thousand per year. This number can be independently verified by comparing of the actual expenditures before CalFire started and those after CalFire was here for a year. A 5-year analysis of costs was completed and the result showed that a local department was feasible and that NO ADDITIONAL TAXES would be needed. CalFire can do it cheaper, at the moment, from a dollar perspective. The question to us: is the fire/paramedic service the place you want to go cheapest? We would say, “Yes”, if we truly felt the cheapest was also the best. We do not believe they are, and we think we can do better with a local department.
How is the level of service of CalFire better or worse than the level of service of a stand-alone Coastside department?
We believe we can significantly improve the quality and quantity of service in the areas of paramedic services, cliff rescue, fire prevention and community involvement, as well as interaction with the Harbor Patrol, State Parks and the Coast Guard for water and marine rescue. The setting of standards for new employees and financially encouraging the development of special skill sets for existing employees are two areas of service improvement we think can be accomplished with a stand-alone department. With a local department we can include the hiring requirement that candidates demonstrate an ability to swim, a local residency preference, a demonstrated thorough knowledge of the streets, and the development of a relationship with adjunct agencies such as the Harbor District, Police, State Parks, Coast Guard, etc. through cooperative training programs. These have either not been accomplished or not allowed under the CalFire contract. With a local department, overtime shifts are filled with employees who work full time on the Coastside. With CalFire these overtime firefighters can be assigned from anywhere in San Mateo or Santa Cruz counties.
Why Vote Yes or No on the Recall?
No on recall for local control vs. state control. In the last election, no one would stand and debate the issues and as a result, Mike Alifano and I ran unopposed. The Board has worked hard for four years to make the relationship with CalFire work. Over time, Mike Alifano, Gary Riddell and I became extremely frustrated with trying to make this work. The services and training were just not getting done. We have worked for the last year to make sure that the change was achievable within the current budget (NO additional taxes). This recall is in retaliation for us doing our jobs and seeking the best possible level of service our community can afford. CalFire's union has funded this recall with over $10,000 thus far and has stated that it will support anyone who supports it. The records show that the CalFire union has not only funded candidates for the Fire Board as well as funding the recall, but has also contributed to City Council and the Harbor District candidates! We do not need the State dictating to us how to run our community or who our representatives should be.