Kern County Fire Department budget showdown

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Kern County Firefighters President Derek Robinson told 17 News Wednesday his frustration with the conclusions of the Kern County Fire Department audit is that the county is “trying to balance their books on the backs of our firefighters.”

But with the county facing a deficit of over $28 million dollars–a sizable portion of that coming from the fire department–supervisors face a challenging decision.

Firefighters came out in droves for Tuesday afternoon’s supervisors meeting to speak out against potential cutbacks.

The meeting began with the Center for Public Safety Management’s presentation of their analysis of Kern County Fire’s finances.

The audit suggested changing overtime rules that treat vacations, sick days, and holidays as time worked. 

Recommendations also included changing extra pay incentives for physical fitness maintenance and higher education. 

KCFD currently has an over $9 million deficit, according to County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop- nearly a third of the county’s total deficit woes.

“This has nothing to do, other than trying to get the fire fund healthy in a really sort of difficult theater. And if we can do it without going into the pockets of firefighters, we will, but we don’t have a lot of options,” said Alsop.

According to Robinson, Fire Chief Brian Marshall will now come back to the county with parts of the recommendations he feels can be accomplished.

Robinson added he hopes more focus is put on potential revenue sources for the fire department, such as fire inspection fees. 

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