Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 12, 2012

24 years ago…

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Public Resources — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

The earliest report that I have was one done in 1988 by Ryland Research out of Santa Barbara.   This report was also commissioned by the Interim City Manager at that time.  Who that person was, I’m not sure, my knowledge of Alameda City Managers doesn’t go that far.    The summary suggests that there might have been some tensions between the City Administration and the Fire Department, since the report refers to a breakdown in communication contributing to problems between the two.

Quick warning, the report is huge!

It’s interesting to note that one of the suggestions in the ICMA report recommended “flattening” command staff.   It’s in the Ryland report that the suggestion was to change “Administrative Chief” to “Deputy Chief” and “shift chief” to “Battalion Chief” to better distinguish command staff. (p.18)

And I have to say one of the best things about the Ryland report is the snapshot of how much of the budget was devoted to Public Safety way back when. I recall a commenter mentioning that Fire was only 15% of the general fund budget in 1996. But according to the Ryland report in 1988-1989 both Fire and Police already made up more than 50% of the GF:

The number was about the same in 1987-1988.   Unless there was some serious cutting done from 1988-1989 to 1996, that 15% number is probably incorrect.

Today, the number is around 63% to Public Safety from the General Fund which is alot, but a 13% rise in 24 years (1988 – 2012)  is not as shocking as a 33% rise in 16 years (1996 to 2012) as the previous commenter had suggested had happened:

Here’s another good chart which details out the actual and constant dollars spent on the Fire Department budget as early as 1979 until 1987:

That would be a great chart to have today for comparison’s sake.

Worth a read for historical sake if you are interested in seeing what the problems with the Fire Department were deemed to be 24 years ago and where they are today.



  1. Inflation Calculator

    What cost $14,391692 in 1988 would cost $26,177,375.38 in 2010.

    Fire Budget alone is now 23,451,439

    Police is now 25,198,394

    Total of 48 million Plus.

    So were paying about double …inflation adjusted……Standard Pricing Model from the Car Dealership and Salesman at Sim City Buick……

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 6:56 am

  2. Add on the 74 Million we still owe that is not in Budget to these same employees and past employees. The Real Costs are much larger but are not in Budget.

    We keep hearing same story from the Same Car Dealership and same Salesmen from Slime City Buick. Or it it Sim City.

    If I want to buy a Car and the National Average price of that Car and model is 49,000 and with all the Extras its 68,000.

    I want to buy the same car with extras and support the Federal Government and their model and the Local Price from buying it from them is 60,000 and 78,000 with all the extras.

    Then there is the Alameda Buick Model. We can Buy Exact same car and Pay 195K.

    They keep selling price has not gone up last 5 Years. BFD.

    Slime City Buick and all the Car Salesman say we can only look at other local dealerships pricing and can’t look at what the rest of the country is paying and what the Government is Charging. We can only look at the other 22 local Dealers that are going broke because of their pricing policies.

    What is not mentioned is we still owe 74 Million that we haven’t paid the salesman yet…..They still want us buying these cars at these rates. They gave us a Deal and let us use Magic Defer Dollars.

    Don’t worry about the other categories.

    Beginning in fiscal year 2010, this report includes two additional categories of liabilities.
    The first category is the City’s liability to make payments that have been earned by
    employees in prior periods, but do not yet require actual cash payment. The primary
    example of this category is the City’s $74 million and growing liability for OPEB costs.
    The second category is the setting aside of funds for future expected liabilities. This
    category includes maintenance that must be performed to maintain City assets, costs to
    replace City vehicles and equipment when they become unserviceable, and other
    liabilities and reserves.

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 7:04 am

  3. 5 Million budget by Fire in 1987 is now 23 Million.

    Inflation adjusted from 1987 to 2012 the Fire Budget should be 10,115,096.

    Probably about what Federal Firefighters pay schedule.


    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 7:17 am

  4. I agree that it would interesting to bring some of those charts up to date. Thanks for digging up this report and posting it.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — July 12, 2012 @ 7:34 am

  5. This is very helpful. It seems that the Police Department’s share of the public safety budget is higher than the Fire Department. Is it because their salaries are higher? Why is John so fixated on the Fire Department?

    Comment by BarbaraK — July 12, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  6. Yes the Police Department does have higher salaries. I guess John is just jealous of Fire Department personnel because maybe he tried but couldn’t pass the physical agility or psychological exam.

    Comment by Pat Berton — July 12, 2012 @ 11:56 am

  7. Ask 100 Alamedans 5 reasons why they like this town, and 99 of them will list safety/low crime. Good schools will get a lot of responses as well. Damn few moved here for the fire department.

    Comment by Jack Schultz — July 12, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  8. Please. Let’s not start a war between fire and police departments. Apples, Oranges.

    Comment by Dave — July 12, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  9. Public Works in 1987 was about the Same as Fire.Maybe some of you remember when they actually Maintained all of our assets…Like Buildings and Streets…

    Pat I hold the Police and Fire in very High Regards. I just don’t think all the Cities monies should be used to pay the Fire Department more than Double what a federal Firefighter Makes while we watch all the cities assets crumble and every fee raised to make you happy.

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

  10. Its interesting that they moved most of the Salarys in Public Works into Park and Recreation Now….So it wouldn’t look llike they have Gutted the Parks and Recreation Budget.

    Interesting Times.

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

  11. How to make sense of where the Money Goes.

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  12. So John, just because there is not a federal Police Officer pay scale for you to point to and say the police are overpaid, the firefighters are the ones that take all your positional posturing to be scapegoats that they are the cause of the financial disaster and no other union bargaining unit is to blame. Interesting position it appears.

    Comment by Pat Berton — July 12, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

  13. Pat

    I’m just pointing out the Obvious. Looks like 100 Million over past 10 years just in Fire Dept. We probably could have New Pools in Town and Outdoor lighted Fields and revamped all our Golf Courses and repaved our Streets and maintained our Buildings and have recreational programs that don’t charge excess fees that alot of families that live in Alameda can not afford..

    By the way I never applied for a firefighting or police position in any City and have many friends that have served our City in these Departments. They are great people and I respect them.

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  14. Lauren

    Would it be possible to give us all fee rates that were charged in 1987 and list all the fee rates that are now be charged in 2012. How many new fees have be created since 1987.

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

  15. There are federal police — they are called National Park Police. I think we have some at the Presidio.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — July 12, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

  16. Perhaps John can compare the pay scales & wind up his complaining to two fronts instead of isolating his complaints to one bargaining unit.

    Comment by Pat Berton — July 12, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

  17. So John since you appear to have many friends in the fire service in cities, would you look them in the eye and tell them they are overpaid, should reduce their retiremts, raise the age of retirement, reduce medical benefits, & tell any that are currently still employed (if they are) that they should take an immediate 10%pay cut. That seems to be the drum you beat.

    Comment by Pat Berton — July 12, 2012 @ 5:22 pm


    Federal Law Enforcement

    General Schedule

    Most federal law enforcement agents are paid according to the “General Schedule” which is the government’s pay scale. It is also known as the “GS Scale.” The GS-Scale has 15 grades. Each grade has 10 steps. Most agents start off as a GS-5 step 1 or as a GS-7 step 1 level depending on your education or experience. The FBI starts their agents at a GS-10 step 1. After successfully completing one year on the job, agents are automatically promoted to the next GS level, step one. The general progression with one year increments is as follows: GS-5, GS-7, GS-9, GS-11, GS-12.

    City And County Law Enforcement

    The pay scale for a city police officer or deputy sheriff varies with each department. Larger departments located in a big city do not necessarily have a higher starting salary despite the higher cost of living. A New York City police officer earns around $32,000 per year after graduating from the training academy. Whereas, a police officer in Greenville, NC earns around $38,000 after completing training. Each city and county determines its own pay scale. Some smaller cities and counties are more financially sound than their larger counterparts. This allows them to pay their officers a higher salary and helps to prevent officers from jumping ship and going to another department. Officers and deputies usually receive a lower pay while in training. Upon graduation, they receive a full starting salary. Starting salaries average between $25,000 – $52,000.

    Most departments have an automatic salary increase for the first few years on the job. They also offer promotion opportunities to various ranks. Most departments follow the military rank structure. Some will include the level of Police Officer I, Police Officer II, III and IV before progressing to the rank of Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Major, etc. Some departments will have a detective or inspector position which pays a higher salary.

    Most departments will pay overtime at the rate of time and one-half. Some departments will offer an educational incentive. An officer or deputy can earn a certain percent more in salary if he obtains an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree. Most departments offer a uniform allowance.

    Federal Park Police

    The starting salary for officers assigned to New York is $53,904. The starting salary for officers assigned to San Francisco is $56,597. The starting salary for officers in Washington, DC is $52,020 and these figures can increase with night differential, Sunday premium pay, and overtime

    Overtime is compensated at a rate of time and one-half or compensatory time off

    Annual leave earned at a rate of 13 to 26 days per year, based on length of Government service

    Federal Law Enforcment Retirement

    Sick leave is earned at a rate of 13 days annually. There is no limit to the amount of sick leave a Force member can accumulate

    Ten paid federal holidays

    The government provides high quality uniforms and equipment

    Life, medical, and health insurance programs are available

    Thrift savings plan. Ability to contribute to a tax deferred retirement plan that receives up to 5% of your salary in matching funds

    All qualified applicants will receive consideration for appointment without regard to political affiliation, religion, martial status, race, color, sex, national origin, non-disqualifying physical handicap, age or sexual orientation.

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

  19. Pat

    I hope there is money to pay their retirements and Benefits……..We have alot of Munis on Brink of BK and Counties and State not much better……There is State Law that Bond Holders will be paid before any Retirement and Benefits are to be paid..

    Ask the Airlines and Car Companies what happened to their retirement.

    When pension plans fail, it is usually because the employer has gone bankrupt. At that point, the P.B.G.C. steps in, takes over the plan, and begins paying the retirees their benefits. Congress designed it to cover a basic benefit-no more than about $54,000 a year for a single worker who is 65 years old when a plan fails. People who have been promised richer benefits, or who are younger than 65 when their plan fails, have their benefits reduced, sometimes sharply.

    The pension guarantor is not funded by tax revenues. It finances its operations by collecting premiums from employers, and by collecting the remaining assets in the plans it takes over. It adds these assets to its own investment portfolio and uses the principal and any investment income to pay retirees their benefits. It is currently responsible for benefits due to 1,305,000 people.

    The P.B.G.C.’s own finances have weakened in recent years, as important sectors of the economy, like steel and airlines, have restructured in bankruptcy, sending big, underfunded pension plans to the government. Many observers predict that at some point the taxpayers will have to bail out the P.B.G.C. Proposals to strengthen its finances before that happens have been hard to get through Congress.

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  20. Firefighters, other Scranton public employee wages suddenly cut to minimum wage

    In the midst of a budget struggle, the mayor of Scranton, Pa., can’t get an agreement with the City Council. So, recently, he decided to cut the wages of the town’s employees to the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, despite the fact they have contracts stating otherwise. This includes firefighters and other public employees.

    Public employees in Scranton, Pa., got the shock of their lives recently.

    Almost over night, the mayor of the town cut the salaries of 400 city employees to minimum wage, $7.25 per hour. That’s firefighters, public works and other municipal employees, gone from making $23 an hour to less than one-third of that.

    It sounds like a nightmare, but it’s real life, and it looks as though there is no easy solution. Scranton is in the midst of a $16.8 million budget deficit, and the mayor was trying to make ends meet.

    John Judge is a Scranton firefighter and president of the local firefighter’s union. He and his colleagues are up in arms over the pay cut.

    “I went from taking home $1,500 after deductions, to getting a check (for) $530 (before deductions). And I had eight days notice. I don’t know how the hell you could do it,” he said.

    The members of Scranton’s four public unions all suffered the cuts, despite their agreements with the government.

    “Now I have 131 firefighters who are wondering how they’re going to make their mortgage payment and their car payments,” Judge said.

    Some of the men have even qualified for food stamps.

    Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty is at the center of the crisis. He and the city council are locked in a battle over Scranton’s budget, and no progress has been made. After the minimum-wage paychecks went out, the city had just $5,000 left.

    Judge believes he and his firefighters are being used by Doherty as political hostages to force the council’s hand, because the city paid certain vendors it owed.

    “Basically, (the mayor’s camp) was putting stuff out in the media to get us (public workers) to pressure council to push this mayor’s agenda,” he said.

    Doherty’s proposed tax increase of 78 percent over the next three years was not approved by the city council, which made some adjustments to try to ease that significant burden on taxpayers. Doherty vetoed that proposal, and has ignored a court order to reinstate the city workers’ pay to regular levels.

    Lawsuits have now been filed as well.

    Sam Vitris, the head of Scranton’s public works union, echoed Judge’s view that his workers are the victims of political infighting.

    “It’s solvable if the two branches of government just sit down and compromise. So far, that hasn’t happened, and the employees are caught in the middle right now of a political squabble,” he told the Associated Press. “What we’re hoping for is they come to their senses and realize they are not only hurting the employees, they are also hurting the image of this city.”

    Despite the cutbacks, Judge’s firefighters are conducting business as usual.

    “My guys are still coming to work for $7.25 an hour,” Judge said. “They’re running into burning buildings, they’re pulling people out of cars. That’s just the type of people firefighters are — they’re resilient, and this guy (Doherty) has made us even more resilient for the ten-plus years of labor strife that we’ve had with him.

    “It’s a bad situation, (but) it’s politics.”

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  21. These guys starting pay is 34K and Taking 2% cut

    Obviously, a pay cut is never good, especially when you’re already on the low end of the pay scale,” says Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters. (Starting pay for fire and rescue personnel in Jacksonville is just more than $34,000, with additional pay available for medical training, firefighting-related educational advancement and longevity.) “But my members understood the economic times and responded.”

    Comment by John — July 12, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

  22. 17
    Mr. Berton, what is your solution to the budget problem?

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 12, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

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