San Bernardino City Council to consider $75,000 Fire Department study by Citygate
The City Council is scheduled to approve a contract at its meeting today that would pay a consultant $74,900 to analyze the Fire Department and provide recommendations on staffing and whether to contract out for fire services.
Council members approved the idea of the study in November. In December, they asked for a contract with Citygate Associates, a Folsom-based consulting company recommended by City Manager Allen Parker and Fire Chief George Avery after receiving submissions from three companies.
“In reviewing all three proposals, there’s one standout: Citygate,” Parker said at the Dec. 16 council meeting. “They’ve done every major fire study in California. … They’re just eminently qualified.”
Citygate President David C. DeRoos noted in the company’s 30-page proposal that it has completed more than 20 fire service merger engagements, as well as 180 fire service studies, including analyses of San Diego County, El Dorado, San Diego and Stockton.
“Why is our experience critical in assisting San Bernardino?” DeRoos asked. “The City is engaging outside assistance, not just to complete the study more quickly than staff time would permit, but to have experienced consultants that know how to uncover the tough issues and how to work them to successful closure. We know the approaches needed and, equally as important, how to effectively communicate the results to the stakeholders.”
Elsewhere in the proposal, DeRoos says that the company will not present “lofty ideas that have no practical chance of implementation or acceptance.”
Councilman Fred Shorett proposed having an outside expert study the Fire Department after repeatedly asking the council to invite outside agencies such as the county or Cal Fire to submit proposals to potentially run the city’s fire services for less money than the city spends by having an internal department.
That request drew fierce opposition from the police and fire unions and from many in the community, while others said it was long overdue.
It was also repeatedly failed by one vote to pass, but since then Councilman Jim Mulvihill, who said he favored exploring outsourcing, replaced opponent Councilwoman Wendy McCammack.
“This isn’t just about whether to contract out,” Shorett said in December, emphasizing that many ways to provide fire services more efficiently and effectively would be studied. “If the suggestion is to revamp with people we have, that’s fine with me.”
The decision to go with Citygate passed 4-1 in December, with Councilman Robert Jenkins voting no.
The study might have errors, as previous studies have, and the money would be better spent elsewhere, he said.
“We go after the hard-working employees and tell them they make too much, and then we find money anywhere for consultants,” he said.
Parker said the money for the study would come from salary savings, or money that was budgeted to pay employees who have since resigned.
The study can probably be presented five months from the time Citygate’s contract is approved, DeRoos said.
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