Presidents Report – Executive Board Meeting – December 17th, 2009
As I write this final President’s Report for 2009 Executive Board Meetings it is with great pride and sense of accomplishment in Local 1014’s body of work this past year. We have been in the middle of the largest economic storm ever weathered by this Local, this County, this State, this Country, and we have been able to stay afloat, protect what we have, make incremental gains on the fringe side of things and prepare for the future politically to be in control of our destiny to some extent and as much as possible.
But my pride in this great Local of ours is bittersweet in that I am also acutely aware of the fact that we are just mid-storm and while we see some indications that the recession is “over” and we are “recovering”, the fact remains that any such recovery will not be felt until a couple of years because we see our revenues good or bad as a result of property tax revenue and that comes in a year or two past the affected year in practice.
Combined with the fact that unemployment remains high, and sales tax revenues that cities use to pay their state taxes are down, and you can begin to see that not only are we in the middle of the storm, but that the worst of the storm is yet ahead for the Fire District and the County before it gets better. This is simply just a fact and we are going to have to prepare for the next two years so we don’t wake up without shelter and food and water.
How will we do this? We will continue to work with the Department and the County to find ways to contain costs, tighten our belts, protect what we have, make fair gains where we can and where they are sustainable and fundable, use our reserves and look for new revenues to stay one step ahead of the storm to keep the rolling stock rolling, and as much as possible business as usual in emergency operations in tact.
This will be complicated and complex to say the least in that we have to look at using District Reserves, which we are doing now, track property tax revenues and protect those revenues from any shift to the state or local cities through redevelopment agreements, work to stabilize the contract city contracts that tend to try and bleed us in bad times, and also watch our state and federal funding sources like the CDC funding for our Camps that we are working on holding on to as we speak.
This will be a constant battle between stakeholders who pay, collect, and allocate those monies. The way we have a say in the collection, use, and protection of those funding sources is really two fold…a voice based on the strength of the voters who are the citizens we protect and also the voice of the elected officials who are voted into office to represent those same citizens and also the interests of the fire fighters who protect the citizens in their districts to bring them the best professional firefighters, paramedics and fire support personnel available at a cost effective rate. It is really that simple.
So how have we had that voice and how will we continue to have that voice? Simply put, through our political action and our legislative lobbying efforts at the Local, County, State, and Federal Levels. Most notably at the Local City, County and State Levels with the most direct impact on our membership and effect on three simple things…WAGES, BENEFITS, AND WORKING CONDITIONS…
We have been successful in al of our efforts virtually cleaning house every election cycle and initiative cycle and it has not been easy or cheap. We would like to continue to be successful to be strong and powerful in our voice, and therefore effective in protecting our interests in these three vital areas for our membership…WAGES, BENEFITS AND WORKING CONDITIONS. We can not continue to perform at this level of success unless we plan for the future and that is inclusive of funding our efforts. I have been hinting at this for some time, and I believe now is the time to put the question to the members and get our dues structure to be up to date and consistent with that of surrounding jurisdictions in the fire service and constant with the Sheriff’s (ALADS and PPOA). We are currently at 1% of top step firefighter wages for dues where ALADS and PPOA are at 1 1/3% as a relative comparison. I will be getting this data put together and recommending to our Executive Board a dues increase vote to take place in January. It will be very transparent and clear to the members in the approach. I believe in being direct, and straightforward with the information to allow all of us to make the decision to support or not support this effort. I believe in the end, most all reasonable members will plainly see the intelligence and the foresight to prepare appropriately to weather the storm.
Thank you for the strong support you have given your entire Executive Board for the past years, and I look forward to quarterbacking this remarkable team of representatives who truly work their tails off to represent the finest firefighters and paramedics and fire personnel around…bar none. Have a safe and Happy Holiday…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…We are truly fortunate in this time.