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County looks to save $3.4 million annually, calls for overtime reform in fire department

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Posted at 7:17 AM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 10:17:50-04

Kern County officials are calling for overtime reform within the Kern County Fire Department.

On Thursday, the county said the Kern County Firefighters Union voted down a two-year collective bargaining agreement, leading to an impasse in negotiations.

The county administrative office said it will now formally request a "declaration of impasse" from the Board of Supervisors during its meeting on May 21.

The county says it's asking the union "to implement recommendations to reduce overtime spending by at least $3.4 million annually."

The county said the fire department's fiscal year 2019-20 budget will call for at least a $6.5 million contribution from the county's general fund reserves to pay for employee pension cost increases. The county says by 2020-21, nearly $35 million will need to be used to pay for the fire department's expenses and balancing its structural deficit.

Ryan Alsop, the county's chief administrative officer said in a statement, "If left unaddressed, this deficit will continue to place a heavy burden on other critical County services and public safety functions. It also prevents us from keeping pace on capital investment needs for Fire Department facilities, vehicles and other equipment, including the replacement of our aging county-wide emergency communication system for our First Responders, which is crucial to keeping the public, our firefighters, and all first responders safe.”