First and foremost-I hope you all are safe, and your property is not being too terribly impacted by the lightning caused fire crisis that we are experiencing. We hope for cooler weather, winds to lay down, and some air and land resources to spell the firefighters that are doing 72 hour shifts in tough terrain and hot weather.
Since yesterday morning, myself, Art Deicke, Dale Mahoney and Ross Liscum (newest ECA Member!), have been interviewing candidates for the nine Cities in Sonoma County. It continues today, but we have a 30-minute break, so I am doing the Newsletter in record time!
One obvious issue that has come up universal to all candidates, is the tough financial position these cities find themselves in due to Covid 19, mismanagement of assets, and the ever-increasing burden of public pension liability. It is killing their budgets. In Petaluma, we are being told by candidates that if voters do not pass a 1 percent general sales tax measure in November, that Petaluma will probably seek bankruptcy protection in 2-3 years. One of the main reasons given was public employee pension costs.
The Town of Windsor is in much better fiscal shape regarding public pension liability due to the fact that they outsourced their safety contracts to the County. That decision many years ago looks brilliant at this point. So I decided to bring up a 10-13 year old idea that former Supervisor Efren Carrillo and I discussed regarding outsourcing the road crews that the County (and I am expanding the concept to the nine cities) has within their staff. I want to draft and push a proposal to the nine cities and to Sonoma County (if successful, perhaps expand the concept to Marin and Napa and Mendo Counties in the future) that they do away with having their own road crews and outsource those jobs to our contractors who can do the work more efficiently and without the huge pension obligation that the County and the cities have by having employees do that work. So far, the concept is meeting with encouragement back to me. So, I am going to try out some early ideas in this Soapbox and invite your constructive critique and ideas.
The general idea is simple. Get the County to not replace their equipment over the next few years, and get the County to transfer as many of the road crew employees into other departments or allow ECA firms to hire those employees directly so nobody loses a paycheck. The non-replacement of equipment can fit the concept of departments cutting costs, and the attrition of employees will save the County big dollars for the future payment of pensions and health care costs over an employee’s retirement years.
Always-the devil is in the details. Some of the questions I am certain could come up:
- How does the County take care of emergency work without a crew? Answer-they have some of you guys on a retainer basis with rates already written into the contract.
- What sort of equipment and equipment life expectancy are we talking about for the County fleet of equipment? I do not know.
- How does the County cover more remote areas of the County that might need immediate crew time? I am not certain, but I believe it can be worked out with the companies that contract with the County to provide that work on retainer basis.
- Can the contract encompass other emergency work like flood cleanup, fire debris cleanup, water trucks and fuel tenders for fire support, etc. etc.? Hell yes. Why not? Makes perfect sense to me.
Sorry-I just used up my break time and have to get back to interviews.
How you like me now?