Solution found for Station 7

Temporary fix will keep station open until Dec. 31
Andy Ouriel
Jul 29, 2014

ouriel@sanduskyregister.com

The latest chapter in the dramatic west side fire story turned out pretty happily.

But a cliffhanger exists, presenting some troubling uncertainty come 2015 and beyond.

Sandusky administrators, commissioners and fire union representatives on Monday came to terms with keeping Sandusky Fire Station No. 7 on Venice Road open at all times beginning Thursday until Dec. 31.

Budget cuts and staffing shortages served as primary reasons for the station periodically closing about three times per week since May. The fire department currently employs 48 full-time workers, down from 53 earlier this year. Employees either retired or left the station to work elsewhere.

The city's $16 million budget, hampered by rising expenses, can't cover costs for replacing these positions.

Among the terms on a new pact, signed by city administrators and fire union personnel, specifically geared toward reopening station No. 7 on a full-time basis:

• Minimum full-time fire staffing levels now shrinks from 49 to 48.

• City officials won’t pay for fire employee physicals.

The prior contract stipulated city officials must use local taxpayer dollars to pay for physicals if full-time staffing levels dropped below 49. Union personnel surrendered this demand to reopen the station.

These two new stipulations save about $30,000 now through Dec. 31, allowing city administrators to leverage these funds for overtime to existing personnel — ensuring enough employees at any time can report at station No. 7, primarily serving west side residents.

“This will provide us with enough flexibility to keep station No. 7 open without any brownouts for the rest of the year,” city manager Eric Wobser said.

Fire employees also voiced support for the plan.

“All parties involved realize that the safety and welfare of our citizens and customers must be the priority,” Sandusky fire Chief Dave Degnan said. “We were hired to do a job, and we must make every effort to accomplish this task.”

Degnan, however, stressed the main downfall of keeping station No. 7 open 24 hours a day.

“I want all the citizens to know that the department is providing this service at the absolute minimum safest staffing level, and I feel that this level can only be maintained until the end of 2014,” Degnan said. “This critically low staffing level must not become the standard as we feel our ability to respond to emergencies will falter, and the possibility of injuries or deaths will rise.”

Other issues exist with the new pact.

The expected $30,000 savings should only last until Dec. 31. After then, it’s not known how city officials can keep station No. 7 open without finding additional funding.

“That $30,000 is just enough for five months,” Wobser said. “This is a short-term solution for the rest of 2014.”

Said Sandusky finance director Hank Solowiej: “This is just a temporary solution to a major issue. A lot rides on what happens in the fall on how we move forward.”

Solowiej’s alluding to an issue on the fall ballot, asking city residents to increase the income tax rate from 1 percent to 1.25 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

If this occurs, administrators vowed to simultaneously increase the admissions tax rate from 3 percent to 4 percent.

And no matter how the tax vote goes, Cedar Point executives also promised to provide an additional $500,000 through a “corporate restructuring,” aimed at diverting additional tax money from other areas into Sandusky.

So, when accounting for all potential income sources, an additional $2.8 million could enter Sandusky’s coffers come 2015 if voters approve November’s tax issue.

A good chunk of this money would go toward bolstering fire services, which includes increasing employment levels.

Regardless of what happens in a few months, residents seemed ecstatic about their firehouse opening back up.

“I thank God that we are going to have our fire station open,” Muirwood Village resident Barbara Linden said.
 

 

At a glance: Sandusky Fire Station No. 7 reopens 24 hours a day

• A new contract calls for keeping Sandusky Fire Station No. 7 on Venice Road open at all times beginning Thursday until Dec. 31.

• Budget cuts and staffing shortages forced the station to close about three times per week since May.

• Union representatives conceded on some claims to ensure the station stays open at all times.

• Sandusky officials said they need additional money, likely through approval on a tax issue this fall, to keep this station open in 2015 and beyond.

Comments

holysee

Cedar Fair: step up to the plate and fund this fire station. Should only amount to half a days fast pass revenue and the shareholders probably won't miss a meal.

Tool Box

+1

Comrade Boose

Vote Yes in November!!
Thanks Sandusky Fire Union for helping with a solution to this problem

https://www.facebook.com/Rebuild...

sugar

With more concessions from all the unions imagine what can be accomplished.

knowitall

Is it all about union concessions to you? Vote yes.

sugar

"Union representatives CONCEDED on some claims to ensure the station stays open at all times."
So union rules were keeping the station from being open. Union concessions allowed for the station to be opened.
Imagine what could be accomplished in the city if all the unions made concessions.
This isn't about me wanting anything it's about the control public sector unions have over the operations of the city and the dollars we taxpayers give to city government.

RES

If you'd like to suggest that the firefighters union kept the station closed by contract leverage that's idiotic. If you don't have enough guys on each shift to keep all three open it would require over time to make sure there is enough. Oh wait when you barely have an overtime budget that will cover six months of the year it gets a bit difficult to keep it open. This 30k just recently came out due to 2 quick retirements of shift members and also a chief. The city very easily could have said no this 30k is for physicals as stated in the MOU rather than allow it for OT too keep 3 stations open. A little conversation with both sides can go a long way. Obviously it has here.

sugar

The union CONCEDED. Regardless of agreement, regardless of what was opened up which at have aided the deal, it is a union demand that blocked the opening of Station 7.
What's idiotic is expecting all of us to be fooled by the rhetoric.

RES

How did a union demand keep it closed. Which demand?

sugar

"The prior contract stipulated" " union personnel surrendered this demand to reopen the station" It's all in the piece.

RES

The prior contract stipulated if staffing went below 49 members the department physicals which were cut to save money would be returned. That money is now going towards overtime to open the station. I guess the health of the people providing health care is not important

sugar

It's no more important than anyone else's. That's a big problem with you hot dogs you think you're special, above everyone else. Pay for your own physical .

RES

Hot dogs?

Comrade Boose

Their health is important they take risk others like yourself do not and are exposed to hazards you are not. If you would take a little time and research your statements you might be credible.
They make a gesture to help and all you can do is degrade them!!

Thanks once again for adding absolutely NOTHING to the solution as usual.

For everyone else some items of interest to read.
http://www.fireengineering.com/a...

http://www.iaff.org/hs/PDF/Cance...

Thanks SFD

sugar

Actually they have the advantage of using protective equipment supplied by the FD provided by tax doljRs, donations or that ambulance fee paid when/if used.
The food service worker comes into as much contact as a health care provider and can transmit as many communicable diseases.
My solution? I've said it again and again cut the benefits , pay and early retirement of all public sector unions, call backup the work force all those retired up to age 66.6. And watch the budget balance. That's my solution, again, once more, reposted just for you.

RES

There ya go, first it was hot dogs. Now it's food service workers. I'll be sure not to eat anywhere around here because you'll probably spit in it.

sugar

You just made my case, you're arrogant attitude speaks for itself. I am not a food service employee, so suit yourself.

RES

I must be the most arrogant farmer ever than

Sugarr

Why the big secret on what you do?
You sure have a llot to say about unions and people retired
Please enlighten everyone with what you do

sugar

Have you nothing to refute me with? So you personally attack me?
You Two seem like a couple of butt hurt ladies. It's not personal, I don't dislike you, I wouldn't spit in your food, that's classless. What I don't like and this is another REPEAT is: I pay enough taxes, in fact too much, gov is mismanaged and corrupt rife with fraud and crony capitalism. I am tired of handing over my retirement money into the ever increasing bottomless pit of gov expenditures, programs and entitlements. Public sector unions are nothing more than laundering facilities for political monies. This is the last time I will explain this to you. Now be angry at me it won't change my mind and it won't shut me up.
Oh and it's none of your da** business what my profession is.

RES

I told you I was a farmer. You can blame me for the algae bloom if you want. I can agree there has been a mismanagement of government monies at the local level all the way up to number one. But I also understand that the cost of doing business and the materials to do so is more expensive. Things just cost more. I know what your opinion is and I respect it. It's yours. I'm of the opinion that know things cost more and that's just the way it is and there has been an increase in the cost of doing any business and that a small increase towards improvements in the city of Sandusky is acceptable

sugar

Your career path is no concern of mine. You don't have to reveal personal info it's unnecessary. You are correct, the cost of everything has gone up. Most of us have not had pay increases to keep up, so where do we take this money from for these increased taxes? Food budget? Mortgage payment, car maintenance, our children's needs?
The city gave it's unionized employees a raise not only this year but over the next two. They have enough money, cut the pay and benefits.

Sugarr

Sugar,
Why are you angry with your choices in life?
My guess you work at Liberty Tax Perkins ave the person wearing the suit dancing around trying to get people to come in. Hot or cold readers want to know!

sugar

I've been thinking about this post and it bothers me. What bothers me is the fact that you would degrade a person who is attempting to EARN money. If dancing around in Liberty Tax suit pays a bill, puts food on the table buys a pack of cigarettes it's all good. ALL work is good.

Sugarr

Exactly be proud of your job there I beep my horn every time I drive by and see you out there. See doesn't feel good when some one tries to downgrade you like you have the union workers, the government workers, the teacher and the firefighters.

sugar

I think I've laid my points out here very well over and over. It's not personal. The salaries and compensation packages that have been given civil servants, fire fighters, paramedics , teachers and the like have are unsustainable. Yet they ask for more.
To give more many of us would have to go without, I am not willing to do that.

Comrade Boose

Sugar,
I have beat you in everyone of your post.

Comrade Boose

Actually they still get the heart disease and cancers WEARING the protective equipment supplied that is why they have the annual physicals to catch this. But I guess giving up those physicals to keep station seven open to so they can provide a service to a simpleton like you just isn't good enough for you. What early retirement are you talking about? Did you ever take in consideration that firefighters retire earlier then most is because of a lower life expectancy then most!

sugar

No one else has a dangerous job? No one else gets cancer or heart disease? These are conditions f all humanity.
Now you are just talking crazy. Get lost. ROTFLMAO

Comrade Boose

Well you just proved to everyone that you have no idea what you are talking about. Thank You for playing!!!

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