The issue: City, campus will benefit from collaboration
Tuesday night’s vote by the City Council to place the Davis and UC Davis fire departments under the joint command of a single chief pointed the city toward a more efficient delivery of public safety services and, perhaps, took steps toward getting the city’s financial affairs in order.
DAVIS AND ITS resident University of California campus have worked toward cooperation on fire services since 1993, most notably by dropping the boundary between the two jurisdictions earlier this year, allowing crews from the closest station available to respond to a call. Last week’s move, though maintaining each department’s autonomy, will enable them to coordinate training and operations, making the public and the firefighters themselves safer.
UCD Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht will oversee both both departments, and report to Davis City Manager Steve Pinkerton and John Meyer, UCD vice chancellor of administrative and resource management, each of whom will retain administrative authority over their respective fire departments.
UCD expects to save $7,500 annually. Pinkerton believes the move will save the city $88,000 a year, and up to $230,000 if the three new division chiefs can be shifted onto UCD’s compensation package. Facing a long-term financial crunch and unable to get the firefighters’ union to agree to the kinds of concessions other city employees have negotiated, the city needs to get the most bang for its buck wherever possible.
NATURALLY AND lamentably, there has been pushback. The union, already at odds with the city over its contract and citywide staffing protocols, and worried about being shut out of those division chief positions, was dead-set against the agreement. Meanwhile, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, who voted to move forward with the agreement in October, changed his mind and joined Councilman Lucas Frerichs as a nay vote on Tuesday.
Most troubling, a group of Davis-linked political figures — state Sen. Lois Wolk, Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, Yolo County Supervisors Jim Provenza and Don Saylor, and former Assemblywoman and Supervisor Helen Thomson — wrote a letter to urge the council to reconsider sharing management of fire services with the university.
Fortunately, the council majority — Mayor Joe Krovoza and Council members Brett Lee and Rochelle Swanson — put the needs of their constituents first. This agreement is that rarest of political commodities: a win-win deal for both sides that manages to improve services and lower costs. If only all our crises could end so happily.