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Public safety agencies question county board after "end" of fiscal emergency

Posted at 6:02 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 11:45:50-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. --- — In the midst of ending a four-year fiscal emergency, the Kern County Board of Supervisors still have pressing questions to answer, according to county public safety agencies.

David Nelson, president of Kern County Firefighters Association, wants to know how an upwards of $180,000,000 is sitting in county reserves, while his department is significantly struggling financially.

"Its just interesting how they've gone about it," Nelson said. "Looking at the money spent and in resolving the debt mitigation as well as looking at the money ... they've been able to roll back into their general fund reserves having a fairly substantial increase."

Secretaries of Ryan Alsop, the County Administrative Officer, said he was unavailable for comment Tuesday evening, because of several meetings he had to attend.

Nelson also explained some of the issues the fire department experiences, due to their lack of funding from the county.

"we have aging apparatus, we have aging stations, we have guys that are stuck in single white mobile homes for stations in certain areas," Nelson said. "We have a lower pay than many of our comparable agencies throughout the county, which has led to a retention issue."

Other agencies, such as the Kern Law Enforcement Association, have also uttered the pitfalls the lack of funding has created.

In previous weeks, KLEA President Richard Anderson said the decades long funding issues "really got serious about two years ago."

"The Sheriff got up and basically advised the board of supervisors that we needed to do something so that were not in the position that we're in now, where it's no longer a position, it's a crisis," Anderson said.

About a month ago, the board laid out a deal to KCSO, that would increase their funding. They're currently in the middle of negotiating the terms of that deal.