Fire chief’s plan under fire

Ricci storms out of meeting after decision delayed.
Andy Ouriel
Dec 11, 2013
Sandusky fire Chief Paul Ricci stormed out of Monday’s city meeting after commissioners refused to make a decision on fire department finances.

Ricci pleaded with commissioners to shift $1 million from an equipment and vehicle account to payroll purposes, a move thatwould preserve six fulltime firefighter positions in 2014 and 2015. A federal grant covering these salaries expired a few days ago.

There could be consequences if the city’s fulltime fire staffing levels drop from 53 to 47, according to Ricci.

A smaller staff would mean: q Increasing response times for crews headed to fires and other emergencies. On average, it could jump from 2 minutes to 4 minutes.

• Closing Fire Station No. 7 on Venice Road by Toft Dairy and Fire Station No. 3 near Cedar Point.

• Giving priority to certain emergencies rather than responding to calls on a first-come, first-served basis.

Commissioners effectively delayed Ricci’s proposal until January, which lets a newly elected set of commissioners decide the issue.

The inaction at Monday’s meeting frustrated Ricci and about 10 other firefighters who attended.

“These are tough times. These are extraordinary times. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” Sandusky fire Capt. Dave Degnan said. “This is a one-time deal, and you can hang me on a cross if they do it again”

Commissioners and city officials knew about a year ago they’d be facing this problem, and yet they still did nothing, Ricci said.

“I am wasting my time,” Ricci said just before he stormed out of the commission chambers.

Ricci couldn’t understand why money from one fire account — coined EMS, for vehicle and equipment purchases — couldn’t be swapped into the fire payroll account.

The EMS account, fueled by ambulance billing, today shows a balance of about $1.8 million. Even after paying out six salaries and accounting for other expenses, the EMS funds should still total about $900,000 in 2015.

“You have to do the right thing, and that’s spending down the fund and reallocating the money,” Ricci said. “This is about serving the city and community and not letting six firefighters wonder if they are going to have a job next year because we can’t make a decision in this room”

Commissioners voted 4-2 against Ricci’s proposal, with Diedre Cole, John Hamilton, Wes Poole and Jeff Smith opposing and Pervis Brown and Julie Farrar in favor. Commissioner Keith Grohe didn’t attend the meeting.

Budget estimates show Sandusky, by early next year, projecting a $1 million deficit in its $16 million 2014 budget. There’s no room in the fire department’s $5.2 million 2014 budget to fund these positions.

Several unappealing options exist to offset the looming deficit by March, including raising taxes, laying off workers or spending down the city’s $4 million surplus.

The fire department accounts for about half the projected deficit. Another $500,000 shortfall derives from cuts in local government funds and the elimination of estate taxes city officials previously collected.

Where commissioners stand on Ricci’s plan
Commissioners and others offered views on Ricci’s proposal at Monday’s meeting. Here’s what some had to say:

“I believe that the existing commission (would do) a disservice to our community by acting on this. We’re already starting the budget process with one hand tied behind our backs. We’ll end up with both hands behind our back.”  — Dick Brady, commissioner-elect

“We have the funds that is already allocated to the fire department. It’s just a line item change. To me, the equipment doesn’t save lives. Men save lives. “I’m not going to substitute equipment for manpower.” — Pervis Brown, commissioner

“This presentation is wasted on this commission. The new commission has the authority to undo whatever we do. We knew it was coming, and we did absolutely nothing to prepare for it. We relied on Chief Ricci to come up with a Plan B, and now we are not happy with Plan B.” — Diedre Cole, commissioner

“I don’t think a big company like Cedar Point would want Fire Station No. 3 to close if they had a big fire.” — Julie Farrar, commissioner

“It’s horrible that the city is looking at significant layoffs, but we are going to have to spread that obligation and that burden around. It is unreasonable to think your department should be immunized from the cuts that (could) be made.” — Dennis Murray Jr. commissioner-elect

“I do think it was a waste and untimely on your part, since this is a decision that’s going to be made next year.” — Wes Poole, commissioner

“We should work on the budget. We don’t want to let anyone go. But at this time, as tough as the budget is, we would do our citizens a disservice. We need to worry about it at the same time we work (on the budget.)” — Jeff Smith, commissioner

Comments

sandusky2012

dont get my way so let me throw a fit!!!!!!

mikesee

Just curious if anyone knows how Sandusky rates versus towns in similar size for manpower. How many stations is there?

DEATHnTAXES

How did we get along fire and EMS wise before the grant supported firefighter were added?

Retiredfirefighter

most of the time station 3 was closed and all squad and fire calls for the east end come out of the central fire station

xbreawq33

>>> Google is paying 75$/hour! Just work for few hours & have more time with friends and family. On Sunday I bought themselves a Alfa Romeo from having made $5637 this month. I never thought I'd be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try this http://7.ly/c8Rr

brutusthedog

What a girl just take your ball and go home. That money needs to stay there to buy new firetrucks or squads that cost about 1m each. I don't know where he thinks the taxpayers can allow him to move money from one area to another because he wanted to same grant funded jobs. I hope there is some other way where the firemen can keep their jobs.

goodtime1212

Yep, lets buy new fire trucks and get rid of 6 firefighters. That's the best way to spend our money and serve the tax payers, you must be buddy's with Gunner out in Perkins.

bnjjad

A garage full of pretty new red fire trucks is pretty useless unless there are people to use them. I know this is only 6 positions but if you are shutting down the Venice Road station, that has 1 truck and 1 squad that are fairly new themselves. Where are they going to go and what will be their use?

Retiredfirefighter

bnjjad 917 is actually central stations old squad i beleive. Dont quote me on it though because im not sure.

Retiredfirefighter

Hey jerk you want to pay higher taxes? You really have no clue how much a truck or ambulance cost. To replace 922 it will cost 550,000 dollars not 1 million like you claim. If a fire department bought a truck that cost that dam much then they have no clue how to budget. I think chief ricci was very forward thinking to move the money to keep those 6 firefighters and keep station 3 and station 7 open

KnuckleDragger

Well they could save a significant amount of money on an ambulance if they went to mini-mods instead of medium duties on an international chassis. For the number of miles that the department puts on these vehicles and there current usage there is no need for a medium duty. A mini-mod only costs around $100K and with a diesel engine will last 300+K miles. They could also save money by just doing a rechassis where they buy only the chassis and have the box removed, refurbished and placed on a new chassis. There already is a service in the area that has experience with this, with good results. They have even been doing rechassis for other services. There are quite a few money saving options including leasing.

topcop1991

Sandusky is a decaying city! If it were not for Cedar Point, it would have gone under years ago. The buildings are old, no growth of significant structures, and we are asking our Police and Fire to hold the line even though everyday their jobs get tougher.
When the city accepted this grant, they also made a committment to those firefighters that they would have a job. These are highly trained individuals who risk their lives everytime an alarm goes off, without hesitation! The community is safer 24/7 because these men and others like them stand ready to respond to every emergency. The commission should let the Chief run his department and they should start looking at slimming down administrative costs, i.e. an underworked and overpaid city manager!

mikesee

Thats the problem with Obama giving out those grants. Many municipalities know they can not afford to keep these individuals after grant money goes away but they hire them anyways. This can be said for law enforcement and teachers as well.

Fireside

WRONG! Please fact check.

mikesee

Really? Here is the fact!

Fireside

Sorry, not you mikesee. Topcop....no promise of a career was made.

mikesee

Gotcha.

Retiredfirefighter

Fireside actually you are wrong. When the city took that money it was with the understanding that they would find the money after the grant ran out to keep those 6 firefighters on shift. Those are the facts.

Fireside

please check the public record and the video of the meeting. This was all discussed. NO offer to keep em, but it was discussed how they would TRY, if there were retirements.

Geez75

How can these "commissioners" be so apathetic? Make a decision one way or the other! My Grandfather was a fireman for Sandusky many years ago, and it is my understanding that fire trucks and EMS vehicles can be maintained. Isn't part of a fireman's duty to maintain their equipment? I see no need to buy new every other year, especially when there are 6 highly trained jobs on the line. Their jobs are tough enough! Lets just make them tougher, genius!!!

Retiredfirefighter

Geez well said. If you take good care of those trucks you can get a good 10 to 15 years out of them before they start to need to be replaced. Look at 922 it is 15 years old and is now just starting to show it age to where it needs to be replaced.

sandusky2012

what is the firefighters pay scale? including managements?

mikesee

They want $1,000,000 to cover the wages/benefits of 6 firefighters for 2 years. This equates to approximately $83,000 per firefighter per year!

Geez75

And worth every penny! They are Freaking HEROS for crying out loud!

Smoke

Ricco,why don't you and the other 47 fire fighters take cut in pay to keep those badly needed 6 fire fighters?Sorry,I forgot that's not the union way.

Jmschmidt812

Well at least one part of your comment was right. Yeah you are sorry that about sums it up. It's the unions fault that there's extra money that could be allocated to payroll and still leave a surplus in the same account. How does the union have any control over how the city mismanages it's spending. You have a city manager that's getting overpaid. Made statements about what was going to change in the city, and still hasn't come to fruition. Doesn't show up to finance meetings held by local volunteers because she's obviously way to busy doing nothing. So go ask her to take a pay cut along with some other city leaders. Or is that not the way of a salaried employee?

Retiredfirefighter

why dont you try running into a burning buidling and see if you like getting paid low wages before you open your mouth.

Geez75

THANK YOU! I can not believe people think that these men are getting overpaid! they aren't getting kittens out of trees they are saving your kids, wives, mothers and friends!

Paul E. Ricci

It is always good to see spirited debate and questions regarding any topic on the website. I find great value in hearing the opinions of others within the community. I can provide answers to your questions, unfortunately, there is inadequate space here, within this forum to show you all the documents, especially the payroll, vehicle replacement schedules and the staffing reports. I would like to invite each of you to come to the Central Fire Station to view these documents, ask questions and perhaps we can come to some understanding of the needs of the community and the fire department. I believe through open and honest discussion, common ground is achievable allowing us to solve any challenge. Thank you again for your comments and I am looking forward to your visit.

Respectfully,

Paul E. Ricci - Fire Chief

2cents's picture
2cents

Nice post Paul, it shows your sincerity. Most posting here do not know your dedication to the job and it's requirements.

Retiredfirefighter

Hey old friend some day soon i will come down and see you again. I want a tour of central station.

KnuckleDragger

Have you considered looking into the figures of vehicle leasing and the rechassis of ambulances? Doing this may lower the amount needed for vehicle replacement and show the commissioners that the fund would be fine even if you used part of it for payroll. Just a thought. There is a service in the area that is doing rechassis work on ambulances with good success and it is saving quite a bit of money by doing it that way. If this is something you might be interested in I could email you the contact.

Paul E. Ricci

Yes, we have looked at lease options and demonstration units. During the last evaluation, the lease option was not advisable due to cost and our current pattern of use and need but that doesn't mean we should dismiss this in the future. That is one reason why we purchased medium duty ambulances. After consultation with our fleet maintenance division, the medium duty chassis provided the best option for our inter-city conditions, use and maintenance. The patient compartments are durable, provide sufficient room for patient care, multi-plexed electronics and ease of maintenance. We typically get 8 years of service from our ambulances. These ambulances will be eligible for re-chassis in the next cycle saving 35%-50% on the cost of a new ambulance. In closing, we have a vehicle replacement plan and an excellent fleet maintenance division that provides for the timely replacement of vehicles. Thank you for your question.

mlbosque

What a rare and welcome breath of fresh air it is to see an official of your stature replying to the people whom you serve. I no longer live in Sandusky, but keep up through the Register's e-paper, otherwise I would take you up on your offer to obtain answers to the many questions we all have. I hope all those who have commented here have the decency to stop by and speak with you in person. Thank you.

Best Regards,

Monica Bosque

Darkhorse

The commissioners don't have the luxury of delaying the decision of layoffs much longer because the grant is about to expire. It is not fair to the firemen not knowing their fate. Grants should never ever be used to support salaries. Everyone knew that this day would come and taking one million out of the EMS fund is way too much money to take out of the fund.

YoMamma

Excellent response from a responsible chief! The city commissioners current and elect will cut essential services to keep non essential services. Mark my words the budget will be balanced on the police and fire almost exclusively.

Retiredfirefighter

you are right yomamma they will balance the budget on the backs of the cops and firefighters. Hey maybe we should we call the city commission for not doing their job.

akmed

When the city was awarded this grant there were commish. That told everyone this was going to happen. The grant would run its course and staffing would go back to where it was. But I give the Paul credit he is doing his best to keep his men.

samiam

The commissioners ask him to come up with Plan B and then won't act on it. If the commissioners and city manager were doing their jobs, maybe this wouldn't be an issue.

sandusky2012

Paul what is your salary?
what is salary of cpts.
lts?

SamAdams

I'm not opposed to added firefighters on staff (or police, for that matter). What I AM opposed to is accepting short term grant monies for such hires and not having a solid plan in place BEFORE the first hire is made as to how to retain those additional hires when the money runs out.

Again, we TOLD you so! And again, nobody could be unduly bothered to listen. If the Chief's plan isn't acceptable (and I'm inclined to agree with the rationale expressed by the Commissioners opposed to the money transfer), that may be because it's a last ditch effort and all that's left to him. This should have been discussed and decided three years ago. It wasn't. That's not an easy pill to swallow, but it's true.

samiam

Was Ricci even chief three years ago? Did his plan include a way to pay for new vehicles and equipment?

sandusky2012

how about the fire dept does like the city in toledo not provide benifits to spouses how much $$$ will this save having not provide primary ins to spouses? SORRY sandusky doesnt need 3 stations how many does perkins have? what about mutual aid?

Retiredfirefighter

Sandusky2012 i am sad to say but it does need 3 stations. ISO insurance ratings based on cities the size of sandusky recommend 3 stations. Sandusky 2012 do you own a house? Are your homer owner insurance rates low? You want to know why fire insurance for your house is low? It is because Sandsuky meets ISO's standard for a city of it's size having 3 stations that are manned 24/7. So know the facts before you start running your mouth.

mikesee

Tiffin is comparable in size and after looking online I see they only have 2 stations. They are rated by ISO as protection class 4. Sandusky also rated protection class 4 if I am not mistaken.

Uncommon Sense

ISO rating has nothing to do with manpower or number of stations. It has to do with equipment, water supply, training, preplanning and other categories. There are fire departments in the US that are 100% volunteer and have an ISO rating of 1 (which is the highest rating a department can have).

"The Stafford (Texas) Volunteer Fire Department holds an exemplary “class 1” ISO insurance rating. It is manned by a team of 79 dedicated firefighters led by Fire Chief Larry DiCamillo..." http://www.cityofstafford.com/ci...

sandusky2012

retiredfirefighter you state: well lets increase the police department by 100% after all insurance rates for property insurance should also decrease since we will have more police to be pro-active. the one reason for the overpass was to allow fire trucks to respond to the west side . yeah time may increase but its the same with a volunteer squad.

D29m2

Here's an idea for the commissioner's that voted "nay" ... how about that in the future (sincerely, God forbid ) should you need EMS or SFD services, go hop in your car & drive yourself to the ER OR, go outside and pray that your garden hose isn't frozen solid and douse your own fire. With a reduced staff, you may just have to "pick a number " and hope you're # 1 .

Stop It

You leave your water hose out all winter with water in it, D29m2?

Plan on buying a new one every year.

DEATHnTAXES

Go to www.city-data.com and search: Troy, Ohio-Zanesville, Ohio- Xenia, Ohio--Wooster, Ohio--Medina, Ohio to name a few---- All cities comparable in size to Sandusky and you'll notice most of these cities have far fewer firefighters and far less debt than Sandusky. The problem here is uncontrolled and unwise spending habits by local government over the past two decades.

Minimum Fire Staffing Levels:http://www.orovillemr.com/news/c...

U.S. Fire Administration/National Fire Data Center Structure Fire Response Time YR 2006: www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/...
""CONCLUSION:Despite the differences in time of day, season, or location in the country, there is not a great difference in response times to structure fires as analyzed here. A more detailed analysis may uncover larger differences.
In most of the analyses done here, response times were less than 5 minutes nearly 50% of the time and less than 8 minutes about 75% of the time. Nationally, average response times were generally less than 8 minutes. The overall 90th percentile, a level often cited in the industry, was less than 11 minutes. How much current response times have been impacted by industry standards and fire department goals is not clear"".

The Boston Globe conducted a study and examined 20,000 fire departments across the country in 2005. “On-time” was determined by The Globe to be six minutes, although this is the response-time standard for career fire departments only.

From The National Fire Protection Association Standards Council::"""Response time. Another element of NFPA 1710 being taken as an absolute is a four-minute response time. Actually, NFPA 1710 allows 60 seconds for turnout and calls for the first engine company to arrive at a fire-suppression incident in four minutes (240 seconds) and/or eight minutes (480 seconds) for the first full-alarm assignment, 90% of the time. In other words, a department can miss the four-minute mark on occasion, but it must make the eight-minute mark to comply. With turnout time included, fire departments effectively have five-minute and nine-minute response requirements. There's no such “and/or” construction for EMS calls""".

A Sandusky fire response time of 4 minutes, up from 2 minutes, falls well within the NFPA standards guideline may be acceptable given Sandusky's lowering population tally, lower housing stock numbers, the lack of once upon a time industrial base, and remaining lower wage jobs.

It's rather hypocritical of the fire chief to encourage debate on this website but expected the City Commission to stamp approval papers transferring funds from an equipment fund to personnel without discussion, research and debate.

publicsafety

I totally agree, and look as a firefighter we preach NFPA, but yet don't ever listen to it either!

Oh that is right, the fireservice has no true standard, NFPA is just a guideline that you can use if you wish, but is not mandated!

Paul E. Ricci

Thank you for pointing out the specifics about NFPA 1710. When most people hear about "response time" they generally do not understand all the components of response time. What we refer commonly as response time is actually "travel time". As you point out, "Response Time" encompasses the length of time from discovery of an emergency through the arrival of the appropriate resource. NFPA 1710, sections 3.3.53 gives a complete description of the concepts of calculating the total "response time". For purposes of this discussion, the City of Sandusky Fire Department has an average "travel time" of 2:52 for 4258 EMS calls this year and 3:44 for 847 Fire calls this year. We were able to meet the 4 minute (240 sec.) travel time threshold for Fire calls 78% of the time. We were also able to meet the 4 minute (240 sec.) threshold for Basic Life Support EMS 91% of the time. This can be found in 5.3.3 of NFPA 1710. The threshold for Advanced Life Support (Critical Care) is 8 minutes. The City of Sandusky provides a paramedic service with the capability of delivering BLS or ALS care. In the presentation on Monday night, the statement was "the closure of station 7 and / or station 3 will increase "response time" (travel time) by 2 to 4 minutes. Thus, a 2 minute 52 sec. average EMS time becomes 4:52 to 6:52. The challenges to response within the City of Sandusky lies in its geographic configuration. As you know, we are linear, approx. 1.5 miles wide and 7.5 mile long. Linear cities are more challenging to protect than "square or rectangular" cities. These types of cities (which you provide very good links)tend to place fixed facilities and resources in the center of the geographic area, providing uniform coverage. Linear cities, however, are a little more challenging because of the longer travel distance from one end of the city to the other end. Linear cities generally place stations to adequately overlap coverage on "built upon" areas to provide 1 mile/ 2 mile radius' for engine and ladder coverage. The Public Protection Classification Program of the ISO does take into consideration a cities ability to provide adequate staffing, fixed facilities, training and equipment (fire department module)in the determination of its classification. In addition to the fire department module, the water supply and fire alarm & communication modules also are evaluated. The PPC is designed this way because one size does not fit every city. I would agree, ultimately, it is the voting public that must decide the level of service they need and that they are willing to support. Thank you so much for your dialogue. I look forward to meeting you and discussing this in more detail. Have a good evening.

J. Hartman

First of all, I applaud Chief Ricci for joining in this dialogue and I also think he is doing what any good "leader" is supposed to do and should do. Take care of his men and women under his supervision. That being said, I encourage all to take him up on his offer and visit the central fire station and look at the black and white and after doing so ask any questions you may have face to face. Get the answers from the horses mouth and not the jack's(donkey's) who bash now, but fail to mention they at one point in time were in positions to prevent what we have before us now or in some way they were a factor. While at the station, maybe also ask to see what other departments, be it city or county, SFD and SPD are either picking up the slack for their lack of staff or the other obligations/responsibilities that have been added to their plates that really aren't theirs. If anyone wishes to take Paul up on his offer, I will be more than happy to meet you there as well. Also, and I haven't looked or dug into any cities of similar size, but how are those cities doing from an economic standpoint? By that I am referring to what is their main industry, did they have factory jobs that have left, did they have past commissions(again city or county) who have thwarted economic development for personal reasons, are they mainly a tourist location? I would also be curious if polled what those cities have as a mindset? A negative one where no one is willing to compromise and negativity is shoved down the citizens throats from several directions for the most part? Again, take Paul up on his offer! P.S. I'm not saying there isn't an issue here, but what I am saying is take a deeper look into the WHOLE picture before saying cutting emergency services is the way to go. Just my thoughts and not looking for an argument, 1st amendment use while I still can!

Retiredfirefighter

Very well said. People should take him up on his offer. I wont take him up on his offer because i know him and i know he has done his research. If i go down to see him it will be to see an old friend, but like i said J. Hartman very well said. The real question is how many people will actually take him up on his offer? I bet none of them will.

J. Hartman

Thank you Retiredfirefighter and thank you for your service. I actually hope a few do as well and not because I was trying to be offensive and challenge folks to take him up on the offer. I stressed that point because someone might actually be holding an answer that could benefit all and just not realize it. Who knows, they sit down and see exactly what Paul or John are dealing with in their respective departments, they potentially could hold a solution no one has thought of or have been hesitant for one reason or another to say it publicly. So not all debates or differences in opinion are bad in nature. That hidden positive just hasn't shown itself yet. Again, just my opinion.

DEATHnTAXES

@J Hartman

All the questions and concerns you ask about can be addressed by "clicking" on the links I provided in my previous post and researching (for yourself) using the City's web site. A good start would be this Monday at 5pm when the City Commission meeting is re-aired on Cable Channel 81. The Chief talks about response time increasing to 4 minutes (up from 2) if 6 firefighters are laid off. Again National Firefighter Standards are set at between 4 minutes and 8 minutes for response time.

www.city-data.com

How did we as a city function prior to receiving the SAFER Grant for 6 additional firefighter?

Minimum Staffing Levels are set based on the number of "Firefighting Apparatuses" in the City's inventory.

T. A. Schwanger

###

@deathntaxes

I have started a search of your suggestions and I see where some of the communities have a mixed "career and volunteer" fire department.
Some have a "Safety Service Director" heading both fire and police.

Reading some of the comments on this and previous stories on this topic, it's evident many of the elderly are concerned about response times for stroke and cardiac arrest instances. Reading a copy of Sandusky's ICMA study suggests placing cardiac arrest defibrillators in police cruisers and training officers in use. . I do not believe this was followed up on.

Paul E. Ricci

Minimum staffing levels are partially attributed to the number of fire apparatus. ISO PPC requires that the City of Sandusky provide 3500 gallon per minute fire flow in the built upon areas of the city. This can be accomplished with three fire engines (each with 1500 gpm pumping capacity). We also need to provide a reserve engine. If we provide a minimum of 3 personnel per engine, that equals 9. One aerial ladder is required for full credit by the ISO PPC, that requires 3 personnel. The City of Sandusky Fire Department personnel are cross-trained to provide EMS as well, three paramedic units and one reserve. A minimum of two EMT's (State of Ohio Requirement for transport) equals 6. Add a shift commander and the minimum staffing level per day should be 19 personnel to respond in each available unit. Unfortunately, we only have 11 or 12 working each day. NFPA 1710 provides some additional guidance for minimum levels of staffing for "first alarm assignment" fire calls and for minimum levels of staffing for BLS and ALS EMS calls. Unfortunately, the City of Sandusky Fire Department, with minimum staffing of 11 does not meet the minimum staffing requirement for "first alarm assignment". We are able to use mutual/automatic aid to assist in meeting this initial alarm requirement. The standard also offers guidance in the need to provide at least two paramedic trained personnel minimum on each Advanced Life Support (ALS) response.

These guidelines are just that, guidelines, but as many Fire Chiefs have found out, failure to manage closely to a nationally recognized consensus standard due to budget challenges is not a defensible position when faced with litigation. We do the best we can with the resources we have, hoping that we are able to provide the best possible service to the community and at the same time provide the highest margin of safety to our personnel.

DEATHnTAXES

@

OnlyfoolsAssume

Or how about everyone in the city pays taxes which would solve the problem. Instead this city is run down because of all the rental's and welfare no one has pride in their homes.

deertracker

You are not making sense. Just because you do not own property in no way means you pay NO taxes. It's always the poor people's fault. Only a fool would assume that!

SamAdams

No, not owning property doesn't mean you don't pay any taxes. Not working, however, DOES.

Still, you make a valid point. But let's re-visit a comment I made not long ago and talk about ENFORCING the law for those whose payments and/or taxes are unpaid. A very visible and sizeable example: The failure to do anything about the Hoppers Trailer Park water bill that was what, five YEARS in arrears???

Before raising fees and/or raising taxes, wouldn't it make more sense to collect the monies the City is ALREADY due?

deertracker

You are wrong. Not working means you don't pay income taxes. Regardless of how one earns their money, when they spend it they pay taxes. You are preaching to the choir. You are speaking of things neither of us have any control over. My comment is merely commending those that have earned it. I do believe though that the persons doing the job knows best what it takes to do that job well.

OnlyfoolsAssume

And they don't even pay the miniscule one percent the city charges for taxes. Which by the way hasn't been raised in forty some years. However, the price of everything else has gone up.

publicsafety

Close st #7 please! It makes sens saves money. There is no requirement within the grant documentation requiring the jobs be maintained, read it for yourself. SFD needs realignment in priorities, and to really sit down and think about staffing. The fireservice has changed, with it so should each department, there are not as many fires as their used to be and with so many synthetics, saving property is harder than ever especially when you are worried about firefighter injury! It is all a big cost versus benefit game. I completely agree with what the commissioners did and I think honestly SFD along with the rest of the fireservice needs to take a good long look at service. What other ares can be served within the community to help justify their requests. Keep in mind with the new healthcare, medicare and medicaid reimbursements always and ever changing and going down, just really how long do you think that million plus dollars will be in the EMS fund. Reimbursement isn't going up by anymeans!! Get a grip SFD and public safety! As a public safety employee myself, I think you really need to stop and take a look!! You took at oath to protect and serve, NOT to get rich.

DaMob

Hey public safety. Why you so angry with fulltime departments? Someone not hire you? Even though in a post above you claim to be a firefighter? So, since no one would hire you, where do you volunteer at? Maybe you should just be happy that you have a warm cozy desk to dispatch from.

deertracker

My only comment is that firefighters and paramedics get the utmost respect from me. What they do is truly heroic. I have no opinion about all this other stuff because I am not knowledgeable enough on it but I do believe the Venice Rd. station should stay. The redevelopment that is taking place and the amount of elderly residents on that side of town require a quick response.

Uncommon Sense

Another idea for cooperation for all cities and townships that are struggling: Create a fire district. Sandusky and Perkins joining into a single fire district could work well, maybe even Margaretta and Huron. One fire chief, one dispatch center, better coordination among firefighters and equipment. And best of all, one independent board whose sole existence is to manage the fire department and its budget.

In spite of this, let me add that Chief Ricci is trying to find a solution within the boundaries of what he can do. It really doesn't make sense why funds received as a result of EMS billing wouldn't be used to support the very firefighters/paramedics/EMTs that respond to the calls. EMS is an expensive service to operate. Not using the EMS billing to help fund the cost of providing the extra people to respond to these emergencies is silly.

KURTje

Perfect example of why the Register will lose with their format changes on comments. Could you image trying to hold a forum publicly & be heard? Here at least (agree/dis-agree) ALL can talk.

donutshopguy

kURTje,

The talk won't end. The talk won't even start.

Darkhorse

The city was supposed to close Station 7 after the overpass was built and now the city can take care of both situations at one time. Mandates for fireman or police don't mean a thing if the budget can't support the personnel.

sandtown born a...

The chief is willing to show documentation to validate the needs and replacement schedule to any one interested, maybe our city commissioners should take note instead of all the closed door meetings and slow as molasses reviews, they should be transparent as well. That will never happen in Sandusky

deertracker

I thought you lived in Perkins! Am I wrong?

sandusky2012

let the taxpayers decide what needs done put a levy on the ballots for fire and ems and let the taxpayers vote on it........ also why not raise the prices up for ems transportation like NCEMS fees are . I had an ems bill to the hospital and this was almost 800.00 lets raise the fees

J. Hartman

I am extremely pleased in a positive way and not a sarcastic one, that this dialogue is taking place. I still encourage anyone with questions on the matter or those that have the solution to reach out to Chief Ricci to get the facts from the source. Also, I see comments that state and they regurgitate national and city of a similar size response times and numbers. I ask you this, your loved one(and I pray this doesn't happen to anyone) has a heart attack, a stroke, somehow has a main artery severed, infant is accidentally locked in a car, or maybe they lose consciousness for whatever the reason, how important does that response time factor into your thinking? A minute can be a lifetime, 30 seconds can be the difference between being paralyzed and having all limbs functioning properly, 15 seconds could be the difference of having a functioning brain or on life support, but a second can be the difference between life or death! If you or a loved one are in a situation where a single second makes the difference between life here or in afterlife, would you support a decision to eliminate emergency staff or would you b*^$h about there should have been a faster response? Lastly, speaking of numbers and national statistics, I don't believe most people actually understand you DO have a couple of the finest leaders in the infancy of their respective tenures doing one hell of a job with the challenges they have taken on the obstacles they have overcome in a short period of time. Are they perfect? No, but not one of us are and they are doing all in their power to correct any wrongs that have previously come before them. Just a thought here, again just another one of my crazy thoughts, but instead of bashing those who protect us and YES SAVE OUR LIVES AND THE ONES WE LOVE, how about supporting them? I know that still doesn't address the financial situation, but support them! I could give a rats left toe what other cities do! Stop trying to compare Sandusky to places no one has even heard of. That's great city "whatever" has a response time of X minutes and do just fine. Well what if Sandusky had a response time of 3 minutes? Be better than who you try to make comparisons too. Let them look at us and say "Damn,we want to be like them" no smart comments needed there, but in all honesty, stop using other locals as a measuring device! WE ARE SANDUSKY, not Toledo, not Cleveland, not Perkins, we are freaking Sandusky! Either support, give solutions, or get out of the way! Whether you realize or can't even comprehend this fact, Sandusky is actually moving in the right direction! So, put away your daggers and forked tongues and be part of the solution. A solution I am confident is there, but damn, STOP KICKING PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING THEIR DAMNEDEST TO MAKE YOUR LIFE SAFER AND BETTER!!

donutshopguy

J.,

So your philosophy is support at all cost. Do you have endless money?

There becomes a time in any public institution where the cost exceeds the value delivered. Some of us like to apply this thought before we agree on dramatic changes to the financial structure of that institution.

Is that OK?

J. Hartman

No I do not, but I do believe there are other avenues not being looked at or considered. Again, I pray this doesn't happen to anyone, but less staff equates to longer response time and if a 1 second is the difference between one of your family members living or dieing would you cut staff? As I have said previously, start thinking outside of the box. I just got back a few hours ago from Avon. While there I was also in talks with a multinational chemical and agricultural bio-technologies company out of Missouri and a few other things are on the hot stove. Not saying I can bring anything here for sure, but I'm making the effort to see if there are some possibilities out there that we could benefit from and the company would benefit as well. I don't sit here all day and comment on others comments without putting forth effort myself. I comment after I put in the effort. Again, I'm easy to find and contact donutshopguy. You just let me know when and where you would like to sit down so we can share thoughts?

T. A. Schwanger

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@J. Hartman

If I recall you moved (back) to Sandusky a couple of years ago.

I always read all blog comments as they do provide worthy information. One commenter addresses the myth insurance rates will go up if the City decides to go to partial volunteer fire services.

Another points out the City did just fine when Fire Station 3 had to close periodically before the SAFER Grant.

Just a suggestion, you may be advised to look at past Sandusky history on previous attempts to increase revenue through tax increases, after all, that is what this issue is coming down to.

In the last 15 years or so, there have been several attempts at increasing the income tax--all have failed miserably because the taxpayers are not happy with the way the City spends money but the spending habits continue.

We are still paying for an over budget fire station that the voters said no to at the polls (tax increase) but was built anyway. We are still paying for an over budget City Service Complex. We are still paying for a taxpayer funded infrastructure project at Cold Creek Crossing (developer in bankruptcy). The list goes on.

Wages have been cut at the General Motors and Ford plants by 40%. We no longer have the industrial base we once had. Population has dropped from 32,000 to 25,000. When I started work at GM New Departure there were 3,200 employees--now we're at 725.

So the answer is not throwing more money at the pig. We need to downsize just like business has. If that means going to a partial volunteer fire department or combining the Police Chief and Fire Chief into one position of Safety Service Director, closing a fire station, etc. then that's what needs to happen. Unfortunately these decisions should have been made 1). As the union contracts were being negotiated last year and 2). Before the SAFER Grant expired instead of last minute.

Not too long ago the City (government) was delighted to have a $1 million carryover. Now we need $3 million. Why? Debt so high we need $3 million to maintain bond rating.

The best decisions and opinions come thru education.

J. Hartman

Tim, you are correct and I did move back a few years ago. You are also correct and the advise is well taken, that I need to do a little more research. Thus I would understand how and why things are where they are today and how it all began in the first place. I have never claimed to hold the magic wand, but I also know this dialogue(in my mind anyways) is positive. Throwing out ideas, getting minds thinking, suggesting researching certain areas past events, I believe all falls under the positive column. I understand the auto industry decline has had an extremely huge effect on Sandusky and the surrounding communities. Thus why I encourage the outside the box thinking which would increase tax revenue's. The Sandusky Bay is OUR oil well! What I mean there is use what we have that no one else has? Bring in more and bigger fishing tournaments (well aware why we lost one do to a former commissioners words) I hate fishing and have no desire to do so, but when I see several million dollars in boat trailers alone, this tells me it's something to be harvested. Maybe we bring in the professional jet ski circuit, entice a major lure or fishing pole company to come here? Just ideas, same as two years ago when I encouraged those who can make it happen to look at the smaller corporate headquarters in Chicago. Illinois raised there corporate tax and will not decrease until 2017. Even though Chicago is by far more appealing than Sandusky, you save someone a few million a year in taxes alone, someone will listen. Around that same time I also encouraged people to reach out to the national sports drink companies and encourage them through video produced by our youth and a plan to sponsor a community instead of an individual athlete. Funny as 5 Hour Energy was the second company I listed back then and that is EXACTLY what they are doing now! Also suggested we reach out to the cell phone companies before we ever accepted the every time we're in a jam go to Cedar Point for upgrades to Strobel Field. I was told that was idiotic and would never work. Google Glenn Oak High School and then tell me it was idiotic? Again, I believe this is positive dialogue, I will do a better job on research, and I will keep throwing ideas out there no matter how silly they may sound. Sooner or later, someone will have a silly idea that will make a lot of sense! I would still encourage you to take Paul up on his offer and I also honestly thank you for the suggestion to look into the history books a little more. S.M.I.L.E.

T. A. Schwanger

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@J Hartman

Now you know mine and others' frustrations.

I don't remember hearing those ideas you mention. Maybe you are talking to the wrong people. Closed minded, narrow thinking politicians with only their own personal agenda perhaps?

Why aren't we marketing the American Crayon and Sandusky Cabinet Property for lite commercial/industrial use? Why are we always suckered into cleaning up someone else's industrial mess (Wysteria Farms, etc.) costing us valuable funds we could use for low-moderate areas and streets or new industry. Answer--lack of collaborative leadership.

J. Hartman

I will be honest Tim, I am not sure on why none of those things have been at least entertained. County commissioners are more of an issue on road blocks in my opinion and several things I'm blown away by that they at the very least didn't allow certain business's/organizations give them a pitch. I know in the past, yourself and others have said I'm "tight" with a certain commissioner. That would be 100% correct, but that individual also doesn't mold my thought process and we don't always agree, but we do on a lot of topics and I will stick up for that individual whenever I can. That being said, we as a whole, hold grudges and dwell on the past. Yes you can't forget the past because you will be doomed to repeat it, but you should forgive. However, if WE can put some of those issues from the past to bed, have open discussions, forgive but not forget,and be open to compromise, WE might actually get somewhere. Will everyone always agree? Absolutely not and nor should we, that's a recipe for disaster. But until folks can sit down and admit maybe their plan is not the best, but maybe it can be if combined with another idea, where are we ever going to head? Exactly, no where! Time to end the bs of people with the "last names" being counted on for answers. Look around, we keep approving the same folks for positions of authority because we recognize the last name? It's almost idiotic to keep running into the brick wall expecting something to be different when it's the same people who delivered us into the current situation or at least the same last name or organization. It's dumb Tim! I believe you have valid points, but I also believe until we are willing to compromise and work towards a common good through cooperation, we will continue to waste our time. We as a community are better than the petty issues we can't agree on going on decades now. Not aimed directly at you, but people here need to be a bigger man/woman and understand they are not OZ and there is no shame in working with an opposing view point. That's called humanity and it is also called being a team. We need to be a team Tim and not adversaries, the team will not always agree on who the best player is at whatever position, but I promise a lot more games can be won if we work as a team for a common goal! Hopefully the team will become a family somewhere down the road. Just me and my thick rose colored glasses sharing my thoughts.

T. A. Schwanger

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@J. Hartman

John I, and others supporting the protection and enhancement of public waterfront access areas, will be the first ones in line to support the concept of industry or residential on the former, under demolition Sandusky Cabinets site. Likewise for the former APEX property or the Keller Building property.

But, when it comes to private development on decades long public areas along our waterfront, such as Battery Park or the Sandusky Bay Pavilion, private development is taboo.

Opinions differ on sufficient public access. Some believe a 10 foot path along the waterfront is suffice. We tend to disagree. As well do national and regional studies.

http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/...

You've heard me say before, some City Commissioner's, not only the one you mention, govern by "demolition by neglect". Rather than seek funding to improve areas such as the Sandusky Bay Pavilion, a majority City Commission finds a way to delay improvements in hopes the facility will continue to decay beyond repair and along comes a private developer to save the day.

J. Hartman

Tim, I'm not in anyone's mind except my own(questionable at times)so I can't say what they privately think. However, I really do have a hard time swallowing the let everything decay and then bulldoze pill. I just can't see that thought as being reality and even those I don't agree with. I can't see them with that way of thinking either. I could be wrong, but no matter what side you speak with, seems to me there are a lot of unknowns out there that form ones reality. What I mean by that, if I think person A has an agenda. I have never asked person A if it is their true agenda, but because person A hasn't confronted me or explained their intentions, I will come up with my own conclusion and since person A never questioned my thoughts on their agenda, it must be a fact? Just saying, dialogue where questions can be asked and answered with out taking aim at the other person, trying to one up them, make ones self look to be the hero, maybe some of those false opinions of what is reality can be erased? Just a thought. Ask a question in a civil manner with respect, I believe more times than not you will get an answer with respect and honesty in return. Again, just my crazy opinion and I wear rose colored glasses.

Darkhorse

The situation with the firemen is not looking good. If Cedar Point is so worried about Station 3 closing, maybe the admission tax needs to be looked as well. The city hasn't raised the admission tax for a while and it is past due. I don't think the city can make a million in cuts. Half the police and fire department would have to be laid off.

samiam

The City of Sandusky, is approximately 9.73 square miles in size and has a population of 25,793 according to the 2010 census. We are also responsible for 12.18 square miles of water in Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie and have about 34.97 miles of shoreline in the City Limits. The Fire Department operates from three Fire Stations with 53 Firefighters and in 2012 responded to 855 Fire/Other and 4,495 EMS incidents for a total of 5,350 calls for service.

donutshopguy

So why don't you put the decision to the voting public? Place on the ballot options to solve this issue. For example list these options:

1. A specific tax levy to retain the firefighters.
2. Move $1 million dollars from the equipment fund to the general fund for salaries.
3. None of the above

This city belongs to the people let them decide.

MarbleheadNative

Unify!