Fire commissioners reject union contract extension

July 16th, 2010 by Ken

Lacey Fire District Commissioners have rejected a contract extension with its fire fighters, citing uncontrolled costs.

By a vote of 2-1, with commissioners Skip Houser and Gene Dobry voting to reject the extension and John  Christiansen voting for the extension, the board turned aside the recommendation from the fire fighter’s union.

Commissioner Dobry said “I want to remind the board that our current financial situation is just limping along; we are nowhere near being in a financially comfortable position.

“It’s time to set a clear vision for our district,” Dobry said.  “I believe approving this contract will do the opposite; it will cloud our vision and limit our opportunities.”

Dobry pointed out that prior to the current labor contract, personnel costs were 83 percent of the district’s budget.   “Since 2007 our personnel costs have exceeded 90 percent of our budget.”

Dobry said that personnel costs for a fire district should be about 80 percent.  “It’s was 94 percent last year,” he said.

He also pointed out that the budget problem wasn’t a lack of revenue.  “Our revenue has been increasing,” Dobry said.  “The problem lies in our failure to control costs.   At 90 percent of our budget, contractual labor costs are the culprit.”

He also pointed out that the State Auditor has slapped the district for running the district’s general fund in the red.

It was high labor costs that caused the City of Lacey concerns last year when it looked at leaving the district and forming its own fire agency.  Since then, city residents have voted to annex into the district and now have some say in the district’s operations.

Commissioners and the fire fighter’s bargaining unit will soon begin negotiations on a new labor contract.

Posted in Government, Informational, The Real News

(comments are closed).