by Todd Matthews, President
Benicia Firefighters Association
To the Editor:
Re: Benicia City Council Allocation of $150,000 for Organizational Efficiency Study
Our city council recently allocated $150,000 to commission a study to evaluate organizational efficiencies of only two departments, one of which was identified as the Fire Department. I hope to provide some information while praying that our community will recognize that this expenditure is unnecessary and has been approved at the worst possible time.
I must begin with a question; isn’t this the worst recession in recorded history? Many economists have attached this label to our current economy. Your firefighters recognized and acknowledged this fact and immediately agreed to contract concessions to assist in covering projected budget shortfalls in 2009. How did our council respond to this recession? They approved Capitol projects that could have waited (Fire Station 12 Remodel at more than $200,000), and dumped at least a million dollars into a building the City doesn't own (Community Center). Further, we are all waiting to find out what the final tally will be for the land and equipment purchases and over-runs associated with the solar project. Now, the Council has directed City Staff to use $150,000 in order to perform an 'efficiency study': on a department that only has 23 employees! This action does not seem efficient, by any standard.
The Councils direction seems even less efficient when the City already employs a City Manager/staff, an Administrative Services Director, contracts with an HR firm, and has a full-time HR Staff. Presumably, one, or any combination of the previously mentioned could evaluate the efficiency of a Department with only 23 employees? Even more distressing is the fact that the Fire and Division Chief's have over 50 years of combined administrative experience which would certainly be capable of, at minimum, making a firm recommendation on adequate/efficient staffing levels. However, our Council has ignored these obvious facts. As a result I feel compelled to share them with you.
Finally, we will all soon learn that the City will not meet its projected budget revenue numbers from user utility taxes generated last year. Ironically, the projected deficit of this line item equals $150,000. Given all that I have shared and all that is known relative to our economy, the City's Staff, and projected tax revenue shortfall, does it make any sense to proceed with another $150,000 consultant expenditure right now? Your firefighters do not think so.
We are asking that you compel your Council and City Staff to accomplish the efficiency study in-house, using the expertise that we are already paying for. We believe that the necessary local knowledge and several years of experience already exists to perform a thorough evaluation of any Benicia Department.
Todd Matthews, President,
Benicia Firefighters Association
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