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Can’t Afford More Cuts

POSTED October 4, 2011 9:59 p.m.

Dear Editor,
Measure O, the City of Oakdale half-cent sales tax measure, will provide funding to maintain firefighters and police officers and sustain the current level of services provided to our city. Four years ago, the fire department operated with 19 firefighters and two full-time chief officers, providing suppression and fire prevention services.
Today, we operate with 15 firefighters, two part-time chief officers and contract out our inspection services. Staffing has been reduced from three city firefighters at each station to two at each station.
Last year, the Oakdale Fire Department partnered with the Oakdale Fire District to create a joint staffed engine company. This partnership allows for sharing firefighters, engines and resources between our agencies and has provided the city the ability to maintain a three-member engine company in town.
Collectively, the city and the fire district reduced daily staffing from 12 firefighters on duty from five stations to seven firefighters on duty from three stations covering over 300 square miles of territory.
Any further loss of firefighters limits our ability to make entry into a working structure fire or meet the needs of a vehicle accident with multiple victims.
In essence, it will negatively impact our ability to meet our community’s needs.
Our firefighters have made adjustments and concessions to decrease expenses such as a departmental reorganization and a reduction in the amount of available time off. Both have greatly reduced overtime costs. In addition, they, along with all city employees, pay five percent of their retirement contribution.
9-1-1 calls for service continue and our city’s dedicated workforce continues to step up and do more with less, but we cannot sustain current services with any additional loss of firefighters or police officers. Your support for this tax measure will make a difference.
Michael Botto,
Fire Chief

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