ABSTRACT: HIGHLIGHTS of “Receive report and provide policy direction regarding options for future Carmel Fire Department management” is presented, including remarks by Public Safety Director George Rawson and City Manager Fred Meurer, City of Monterey. COMMENTS are made about the conduct of the City Council Members, in particular.
HIGHLIGHTS of “Receive report and provide policy direction regarding options for future Carmel Fire Department management:”
• The agenda item, “Receive report and provide policy direction regarding options for future Carmel Fire Department management” was the last item on the agenda. However, at the meeting, this agenda item was placed after IV. Extraordinary Business and prior to V. Announcements from Closed Session, from City Council Members and the City Administrator.
• Public Safety Director George Rawson presented the Staff Report. Interestingly, George Rawson stated that the reason the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea withdrew from consolidation negotiations in January 2008 was because of “labor negotiations” and “some other issues.” He presented the three long-term options for the Carmel Fire Department, including Stand Alone, Contract or Joint Powers Authority. At present, staffing levels, equipment and the fire department facility meet the “prerequisites” for future consolidation, he stated.
• Highlights of the presentation given by the City Manager of the City of Monterey Fred Meurer included, as follows:
The financial realities of post-2001 and recent financial events make consolidation absolutely essential if fire departments are going to maintain essential services to the public.
Goal is to form a regional fire authority to serve all of the Monterey Peninsula cities. A “step on the longer-term journey” is to go from three fire departments (Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel) to one “extraordinary” fire department, consisting of 1 Fire Chief, 1 Deputy Chief and a complement of fire prevention officers including division chiefs as the standard to dodge any lawsuits which naturally come when something goes wrong.
Major stumbling block to consolidation, excess liability carriers have great concerns about us commanding people not working for us. Therefore, we need to have an end date for the interim, intermediate, contract period. Ergo, contract for services is the best option. (End date 28 February 2009)
The City of Monterey is prepared to move forward, prepared to serve if the City Council of Carmel-by-the-Sea decides to contract for fire protection services.
• During City Council deliberations, all of the City Council Members expressed support for moving forward with contract negotiations with the City of Monterey for fire protection services except Mayor Sue McCloud.
• Concerns expressed by City Council Members about the uniqueness of Carmel-by-the-Sea, i.e., no physical street addresses, were addressed by City Manager Fred Meurer by stating that all of the firefighters would be familiar with Carmel-by-the-Sea and be able to navigate the streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea expeditiously. And Carmel Firefighters would remain at the Carmel Fire Station. In fact, contracting with the City of Monterey would increase Carmel’s comfort level regarding safety, Meurer stated.
NOTE: City Manager Fred Meurer has a proven record of implementing cost effective, mission oriented, consolidation strategies involving the City of Monterey, the Army, Navy, Sand City and most recently the Monterey and Pacific Grove Fire Departments.
• At the meeting, Public Safety Director George Rawson, Fire Chief Andrew Miller, City Administrator Rich Guillen and City Council Members Paula Hazdovac, Gerard Rose, Karen Sharp and Ken Talmage stated for the record their support for contract negotiations with the City of Monterey for fire protection services. It was conspicuous that Mayor Sue McCloud was noncommittal. It appears, then, that the major stumbling block to consolidation is Mayor Sue McCloud.
• Only at the 11th hour did Public Safety Director George Rawson, Fire Chief Andrew Miller, City Administrator Rich Guillen and City Council Members Paula Hazdovac, Gerard Rose, Karen Sharp and Ken Talmage state for the public record their support for contract negotiations with the City of Monterey for fire protection services. Finally, at long last, they placed public safety and the citizens of Carmel-by-the-Sea ahead of the demands of Mayor Sue McCloud.
(Source: Archived Videos, Council Meeting, December 02, 2008, 00:19:30 – 00:51:52)
RELATED ARTICLE: City inches closer to joining Monterey Fire, MARY BROWNFIELD, The Carmel Pine Cone, December 5, 2008, pg. 7A & 9A