Sean Longoria On Jun 22, 2017
Redding, CA, City Council on Wednesday approved a new two-year budget that averted laying off three firefighters on June 30.
June 21–Redding will keep three firefighters who faced layoffs on June 30, the City Council decided Wednesday.
Working through its two-year budget, the
“The math of getting firefighters to a fire is actually really simple. The more firefighters you put on an engine, the fewer engines you have to send,” he said.
Gray said a house fire in the city pulls half the department to respond, effectively leaving half of Redding unprotected.
Six apprentice firefighter positions — low-paid, entry-level jobs — have already been cut. Those positions and the three firefighters were funded by a grant extended for two years by the city’s one-time use of reserve cash.
Vice Mayor Kristen Schreder said she wants the city to reapply for the grant that funded the positions.
The money will come from $600,000 in anticipated savings across the board over two years. An additional $400,000 may be available beyond that, City Manager Barry Tippin said.
“That’s based on our projections of the savings,” he said. “We think it’s pretty accurate and that the actual savings will be in line with what we’re presenting but it could be subject to change.”
Keeping the firefighters was the only major change the council made to Tippin’s budget recommendation, which called for a $300 million budget for the new fiscal year starting July 1. The budget in 2018-19 is $295.3 million.
Most departments submitted spending plans on par with previous years’ with spending increases coming mostly from employee benefit cost increases.
Redding is balancing its budget for the next two years, using some extra money the city won’t see again, Tippin said.
That includes $500,000 from Bethel Church to keep the neighborhood police unit. The church is also behind an ongoing campaign to raise $740,000 more to keep the neighborhood police unit through 2019.
So far that campaign has raised about $30,000, said Cory McCandliss, general manager of the Redding Civic Auditorium, who’s also helping run the fundraising campaign.
“As long as the community is responding to the campaign, Advance Redding — we will keep going,” McCandliss said Wednesday.
Tippin said the city is also pursuing a grant to keep the police unit longer.
Pension cost increases for employees citywide, stemming from lowered investment return expectations and increased contributions to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, are putting greater strain on the city budget.
“We have been working with the employee groups for some time to address some of these issues,” Tippin said, noting the Redding Peace Officers Association is now picking up part of the city’s cost of its members’ retirements.
By 2020, the city could exhaust its reserves and be $28 million in the red in 10 years without action, Tippin told the council.
Tippin said he’ll have a plan to address those shortfalls in place by July 2018 through a combination of working with employee unions, promoting economic development and evaluating the city’s fee structures — including medical and recreational marijuana — and where it might be able to find extra money.
“It’s sort of an all-hands on deck approach right now,” he said.
___ (c)2017 the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.) Visit the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.) at www.redding.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.