LOMPOC, Calif. - The budget battle rages on in Lompoc as fire officials express concern over misinformation they say has been shared about the department's impact to the General Fund Budget and their raises.
However, a city leader is standing by his numbers.
Officials with the Lompoc Firefighters Union says the City Fire Department has hired 29 people for three positions over the last five years and every time they onboard a new firefighter it costs somewhere between $20,000-30,000 dollars.
But Lompoc City Councilman Jim Mosby says the department is fully staffed and we’re not losing valuable manpower to neighboring communities.
This is just one example of how these officials are not seeing eye to eye.
It’s hard. We feel it inside the walls. Morale is low a lot of our members don’t feel secure,” said Anthony Hudley, Lompoc Firefighters Local 1906 President.
Hudley points to comments, like the one Lompoc City Councilman Jim Mosby made on May 3, 2019, in front of our cameras, that degrade morale.
“There’s $928,000 in overspent in one year,” said Mosby.
“What are those departments,” asks our reporter.
“It was the fire department,” said Mosby.
Lompoc Firefighters Union President Anthony Hudley says that number from a June 2017 document, showing that the Lompoc Fire Department overspent close to one million dollars is just not accurate and was taking into account multiple unfilled positions and injuries.
“That was clarified by the Finance Director, stating that those numbers were inaccurate and because they actually went down the itemized list and realized that it actually was more in the $400,000 range and that was also contributed to us being short-staffed and having people on industrial leave,” said Hudley.
We asked Mosby if he ever received that correction from the Finance Director and fire officials that the $928,000 dollar sum was a mistake and this was his response.
“No, we never corrected the audit report. This is the official book, people can say whatever they want but this here is an official book,” said Mosby.
However, Hudley says he’s met with Mosby.
“We’ve sat with that individual a number of times and clarified and they acknowledged the fact that that’s not a true number. So ultimately what’s the end game what’s the agenda,” said Hudley?
We asked then Mosby if Hudley is lying.
“No, they’re confused with what that was. That number was told to me was because he, the way he had done his math and he carried numbers from the previous year,” said Mosby.
Mosby maintains that it has nothing to do with vacancies because money was spent.
According to Hudley, city management and Local 1906 agreed to a four-year compensation package equalling just over $270,000 dollars with two annual three percent raises.
“This is a city document right here and this is what they stated this is what it works out to and the total pay was 336,000,” said Mosby.
“Not every employee is going to get the F Step increase. Not every employee is getting Optional Scope Pay. So why are the numbers not lining up,” said Hudley.
Mosby says those raises were approved based on revenues that the city was told they were going to have.
Hudley says only 10 out of 24 firefighters are receiving specialized incentive pay and six members won’t receive what’s called F Step pay over the next four years. There are concerns that statistics are being tabulated to reflect that the entire department will be receiving these.
Mosby is adamant that he does not have a vendetta against the fire department and no one is planning on cutting rescue.
“What I’m saying is we need to be truthful as to what’s out there so we have all the numbers on the table. But the fire department and other departments don’t need to go out there and say we’re not taking care of them,” said Mosby.
However, in a recent City Council Budget Workshop, fire leadership explained to officials that the proposed 8.7 percent budget cut would terminate three firefighters
“We’re pretty much the lowest paid fire department in Santa Barbara County and we’re just asking them to invest in their employees,” said Hudley.
The only other fire department that makes less than Lompoc’s Firefighters is Guadalupe. They have a full-time chief and are paid per call, which Hudley says is not comparable to a full-service fire station.
There will be a Lompoc City Council Budget Workshop on Wednesday, May 15th at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
A city spokesperson sent a statement to our newsroom in response:
Public safety is a priority for the City of Lompoc. We value our outstanding police and fire departments and the critically important services they provide in our community. Our city aims to be competitive with pay and benefits for our public safety personnel, and memorandum of understandings (MOUs) regarding these matters are agreed upon together with the public safety unions. The City of Lompoc is actively recruiting for the Lompoc police officer positions which city council has approved to fill, in order to help address staffing shortages. We encourage those interested in applying to be a Lompoc police officer or dispatcher to apply via the careers page on our city website at www.cityoflompoc.com.