firefighters may give back more than $26,000 they accrued in
compensation time while working on the national day of mourning for
former President Ronald Reagan.
In an attempt to ease the city’s financial plight, police and firefighters may give back more than $26,000 they accrued in compensation time while working on the national day of mourning for former President Ronald Reagan.
The Hollister Fire and Police Departments are negotiating within their local unions to give back eight hours of compensation time each person received for working on Reagan’s day of mourning. Councilman Tony LoBue said a union contract obligated the city to give all non-emergency personnel the day off.
Firefighters began talking about giving the money back to the city the day of Reagan’s funeral, and unanimously cemented the decision Tuesday, said firefighter Bob Martin Del Campo, president of the local International Association of Firefighters Union.
“We decided, thank you, but you could use the money a lot more than we could,” he said. “(The city) has been scrutinizing small amounts of money in the budget, so we said, go ahead and defer it.”
Because sworn police officers had to work despite the national holiday, the Hollister Police Officer’s Association (POA) union also will consider giving that money back, said Sgt. Ray Wood, POA president.
“We can’t just close up and go away,” Wood said. “I decided to approach the POA to say, ‘let’s give it back.’ We just felt like it was the right thing to do.”
The POA hasn’t officially decided to give the time back because it hasn’t conferred as a group to do so, but the officers Wood has talked to have been supportive, he said.
He declined to elaborate on how many officers have expressed support, but a meeting at the end of this week or beginning of next week should solidify the decision, he said.
“I don’t see it as being an issue, but it’s not absolute,” Wood said. “Everybody thinks it’s a good idea … and believes the city’s in a budget crunch and it would be like taking money that shouldn’t be put out right now.”
Giving all city employees the day off cost the city approximately $58,000, according to Clay Lee, city management services director.
The police and fire department’s concession of that one, eight-hour day, will save the city about $26,000, he said.
“If they’re going to give up the comp time … they have to sign a statement or waiver,” Lee said.
Neither union has signed a statement yet.
Mayor Tony Bruscia, who has criticized both the police and fire department for not acquiescing to the city’s financial woes, applauded Hollister’s public safety personnel for the display of support.
“Things like that go a long way in giving credibility to the employees being a part of the solution,” Bruscia said.
While it’s “certainly a step in the right direction,” he conceded the amount of money the city would save is a long way from solving the city’s budget deficit.
“I’m glad they’re taking the initiative to do that… and I don’t want to diminish the value of what they’re doing, but you have to put it in context,” Bruscia said. “We’re looking at a $16 million deficit over the next five years.”
Fire Chief Bill Garringer said the gesture signifies an attempt to show the city that all its public safety personnel are willing to do what they can to help the city financially.
“It’s a move of solidarity with police officers,” Garringer said. “It shows that public safety is on task and we want to be team players.”
Erin Musgrave can be reached at 637-5566, ext. 336 or at [email protected]