Taxpayer Association Arguments Get People Killed

(Photo Via Vince Wells Facebook Page)

The Contra Costa Taxpayer Association has become somewhat of a menace to residents of East County as they have filed multiple arguments against Measure S while they have also began trolling websites and leaving negative comments against this Measure.  A debate is fine, but when your arguments will get people killed, I do not believe this so-called Association has the resident’s best interest at heart.

Debating the specifics of an issue is part of the process, but what is transpiring is unacceptable as the Taxpayer Association is clearly stating half-truths, providing misleading information, and simply lying about the effect their suggestions will have on the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) from a financial standpoint.

For starters, the Association is claiming a no vote still leaves time to resolve the financial troubles that ECCFPD is in. This is probably the biggest myth stated by this group and Ms. Hunt (Association President) should know better. Government does not work quickly, it will take at least a year or more to come up with another solution while we are stuck with sub-par services.  To correct Ms. Hunt, if the measure fails, three stations are closed and 24 firefighters are laid off immediately and that’s a fact because there will be no money.

It should also be noted that the only real financial fix that could ever solve the revenue issue is with the re-allocation of Proposition 13 funds which will happen when pigs learn to fly.

But if you truly take a look at with the Contra Costa Taxpayer Association is stating and the arguments put forth (shown below), you would realize they appear to be an unprepared group of “Johnny Come Lately” without a knowledge of the history of ECCFPD or its services—it could also be argued the only people who truly benefit from Ms. Hunt’s argument are the insurance companies who get to raise your rates more than what residents would actually pay in taxes to support fire services.

Voters simply have to remove their emotions about taxes and ask themselves who they would rather pay?

You can pay a little to the ECCFPD to ensure services or you can pay the insurance companies double (at the minimum) what the tax would cost you. Over a 10 year period, the parcel tax will cost around $2,258. Meanwhile, you could pay around $8,000 additionally over 10 years to your insurance company (Supporting Measure S Actually Saves You Money)

Just remember, residents of Morgan Territory Road had a $1,500 to $4,000 insurance increase when the Sunshine Station closed. There is no grey area here, you will pay someone regardless of the outcome of Measure S. Paying the Parcel Tax will save you money in the long run and you might as well get service.

What Ms. Hunt and her Taxpayer Association wont tell you is that the citizens of East County have been getting fire protection for half price since 2002 and they are only asking for a small increase compared to what they could be asking for—Ms. Hunt’s own arguments in an exchange Director Steve Barr provide proof that by her own admission the District should have asked for $250 from the start, not 10 years from now.

She appears confused at just what exactly she is arguing. This is nothing more than someone who is late to the party and trying to make a splash when the reality is all of her so called solutions had discussed many times over the years and have been dismissed due to financial fallacies and reduction in service which is not acceptable.

Just this past week, Ms. Hunt is running her mouth left and right about how she attended a meeting in Brentwood and she claims “what people heard was for the first time at this meeting is that this tax, despite growing to $250, will not solve the district’s problems. The 30% staff expansion and opening another station will mean the district starts spending more money than it takes in four years. These numbers come from the Fire Chief that this tax does not solve the district’s problems.”

I firmly believe Ms. Hunt is delusional and misunderstood the Chief because there is a document that has been around since January 2012 (see document ECCFPD Service Model  ) which shows the 10-year plan. More to the point, Ms. Hunt appears unhappy that this tax can grow to $257 by year 10. This is due to inflation. Is she indirectly stating she expect this District to somehow escape those inflationary pressures in overhead costs?

Finally, her argument on what the chief said is misleading because it’s not an approved deployment plan. The District will deliberate and vote on deployments each year moving forward. There is ample time to adjust according to more current fiscal information in years 4/5.  The Chief’s model is based on a completely flat property tax revenue assumption—a consistent increase which we all know the reality is home values goes up and down each year.

While it’s true the district will never outgrow its revenue problem with any tax, this tax buys the District 10 years to find an ideal fix while bringing services up to the national standard—currently, for whatever reason people seem to believe our services are “adequate”.

The reality is if people listen to Ms. Hunt and her Association, you can kiss the adequate status goodbye. Voting no makes little sense  because it guts our emergency services.  People of East County do not need contracted fire services; we need expanded services in order to save lives.

Let’s jump right into her arguments she sent to the County Elections and you will realize how illogical here arguments against the District truly are.

Ms. Hunt states The District has promised such an enormous service expansion that will begin spending more than it takes in starting in 2016. That means you will be hearing the same threats of service cuts and the demand for increased taxes in just four year.

Ms. Hunt is purposely misleading residents and trying to scare voters with her statement.  If she had attended the fire board meetings (specifically January) she would know that Directors Anderson,  Director Barr, and Director Stonebarger stated the deficit would begin in year 11—not in year 4. What has been relayed to voters over and over is the District will never outgrow its revenue issues due to Prop 13.  She would know that due to the way this parcel tax is written, the District cannot legally ask for more money until the sunset expires 10 years from now.

By the way, this enormous service expansion she speaks of, it barely gets us back to services levels we had 2 years ago and still does not get us to the same level of service that she enjoys in Walnut Creek. As you can see, this woman is a hypocrite!

I’d also like to ask Ms. Hunt to define what she considers an enormous expansion because she fails to mention what this expansion is nor compare it to the coverage we currently receive.

Going back further, a 2006 study, performed by Citygate, concluded that East County will eventually need 10 fire stations with three firefighters on each engine. One of the firefighters on each engine should be a trained paramedic. According to the study, it would cost the district about $18 million to achieve that level of service. So there is a reason why expansion has to occur anyway.

Ms. Hunt then provides a series of 5 bullets of suggested fixes for the District that look nice in theory, but they will get people killed. Let’s take a look shall we?

1.       Expand the existing contract with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The District has not explored this option in recent years.

The irony of this suggestion is that you have an anti-tax group essentially trying to push local district services onto the state. If that’s not the ultimate in hypocrisy I don’t know what is!

Ms. Hunt continues to ignore the fact that ECCFPD looked into CALFIRE a few years ago (7 or 8 years). It was deemed more expensive and service would be reduced. Fast forward to today’s costs, that quote likely has skyrocketed. In fact, Director Steve Barr explained to Ms. Hunt via the Brentwood Press website, using her own example, that CALFIRE would actually cost residents more money and proved it with numbers.

Director Barr wrote: By using your example (Summerset IV meeting)Morgan Hill CalFire contract at $2.2m per year.

  • CalFire 6 stations x 2.2 = $13,484,100.00
  • ECCFPD 6 stations (11/12) $11,083,474.00.
  • Total savings -2,400,626.00

The reality is Mr. Barr clearly proved Ms. Hunt has no idea what she is talking about.  By offering this suggestion, she is essentially costing East County residents $2.5 million more annually.  The kicker is anyone who knows something about fire services knows CALFIRE cannot promise the same level of services our current District firefighters could.

Another strike against CALFIRE is If one takes time to examine Morgan Hill proposal from CALFIRE. They are paying for full-time mechanics to manage the fleet and a staff of dispatch people. Today we get dispatch from the County at shared rates which common sense will tell you is cheaper.

In the same thread via the Brentwood Press, Bob Mankin pointed out a very important fact that has been ignored and it’s that CalFire has reserve requirements that extend even further and this District in its current fiscal state is a complete non-starter for them. In fact, the District with the reserves they had when they were formed is a non-starter

See this debate for yourself in the Brentwood Press. By the way, Director Barr gets kudos!

2.       Use more paid on-call volunteer firefighters to supplement the full-time staff.

Being a firefighter is not an on-call position. This suggestion is a recipe for disaster and truly reduces services based on quality that East County Residents receive. Ms. Hunts next bullet proves this in terms of 70% are for medical emergencies in which the highest possibly trained firefighters need to be on duty, not volunteers.

This suggestion only comes from folks who will be unaffected by Measure S failure. Whoever suggests this please ask them if they have volunteers in their District.

3.       Send fire trucks only to fires. About 70% of dispatches are for medical emergencies which can be handled by ambulance staff rather than firefighters.

This one cracks me up because the argument itself makes the point of why paramedics are needed on rigs. Just look at the numbers. Engines arrive on scene typically 5-10 minutes faster than ambulances which is fact in East County.  If paramedics were on rigs it means you get emergency medical services faster as opposed to basic medical services—it’s the difference of driving a Focus compared to a Ferrari based on what can be provided to you and the medicine (pain relief) that can be given.

Using logic, do ambulances have tools to rip open cars? Do they carry ladders? Do they have tools to get into homes in an emergency situation?  If firefighters were needed, ambulances would arrive on scene “late”, observe the scene, then call for backup fire services to assist then be able to work—the result is valuable time is wasted when every second counts.

Using Ms. Hunt’s example, let’s take a look at what would occur under her illogical suggestion.

  1. 911 is called where an ambulance is dispatched (2 minutes)
  2. 10-minutes later the ambulance arrive on scene and scopes it out (12 minutes gone)
  3. Determined fire assistance are needed (15 minutes gone)
  4. 5-7 minutes later a fire engine arrives on scene (20 minutes now gone)
  5. Fire services get to work (21 minutes later)

We cannot afford a middle man (ambulance companies) in emergency situations. What Ms. Hunt is suggesting is wasting valuable time and will unnecessary put people in danger—bottom line, this suggestion kills people.

What Ms. Hunt is actually suggesting is we pay firefighters to sit in their stations all day and play cards or watch TV. Hint to Ms. Hunt, firefighters are paid per shift, not per call.  If they are being paid, they should go to every call they are needed on.

This one simply proves the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association has no clue about fire services or what they are even suggesting because this one kills people.

4.       Cut back on generous benefits. Firefighters can retire at the age of 50 with an annual pension at near full salary. Pension costs are projected to increase by 65% in five years based on District projections.

I’d like Ms. Hunt to clarify what these generous benefits are in which she is referring to! I’d then request she perform some due diligence and compare ECCFPD to other Districts in the Bay Area and then see if she comes to the same conclusion before opening her mouth.

If she did her due diligence, she would realize our firefighters have not had a raise in 4+ years, they agreed to pay more into their retirement and medical, while they have also agreed to a tiered retirement system for new hires. East County residents are getting a hell of a deal on our fire service staffing costs.

The truth is, Ms. Hunt is lumping our brave firefighters in with other government entities for emotional appeal, not providing the reality of their not so great retirement benefits. The reality is firefighters should be able to retire by 50 because of the physical demands of the job. Their careers are a lot shorter than someone working at a desk their whole life—it should also be noted that their life expectancy is shorter.

Using logic, do you know of many 20-year old firefighters? Very few actually serve 30 years to receive a full pension which is what Ms. Hunt is talking about—it’s a very low number. Typically, a majority retire with partial pensions because most firefighters fail to reach full status for one reason or another.

When you jump back to her argument of handing ECCFPD off to CALFIRE (essentially leaving Local 1230), there is also a cost to her suggestion of going to a different union.  She suggests going to union that is CALPERS pension based and has a lower employee contributions than ECCFPD. That sounds good, but when you do that, the Districts share of pensions will be much larger which is a recipe for stupid!

5.       Cancel what remains of the $120,000 contract to convince you to raise taxes through a fear campaign.

This one is somewhat hypocritical considering her Association is a membership club where people have to pay to join. It could be argued her group is a political animal in reverse of the consultant hired by ECCFPD which is essentially convincing you to vote against Measure S due to a fear campaign of her own. I’d like to remind Ms. Hunt that the District has provided 20 plus educational meetings to inform the public about Measure S.

To be honest, I have complained, suggested and even blogged about why ECCFPD needed a fear campaign and some emotional appeal.  To the Districts credit, they have remained in education mode and followed the law. They have not even come close to a fear campaign as Ms. Hunt proclaims.  This suggestion really is a cheap shot by Ms. Hunt more than anything and has no weight to it.

Why the Contra Costa Taxpayer Association is Suspicious

Now the Contra Costa Taxpayer Association is not all bad, they are just way off base on this issue. They are dead wrong here and it will cost lives.  But who is the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association? What is their interest in defeating Measure S?

Nowhere on its website does it mention who is on their Board of Directors. Nowhere does it show who their sponsors are. Nowhere does it state who in East County they represent.  If they are going to argue against a tax not in their own backyard, we deserve a right to know about whom and how many people they represent in East County in which will actually be effected by Measure S. Not just sticking their nose in East County business because they have the title “Contra Costa” in their name.

Most importantly, we have a right to know, if any,  how many and which insurance companies are a part of this group since it’s an Association run by corporations. If not insurance companies, what about insurance agents are members?

What I am getting at is this could be a direct conflict of interest. Kris Hunt’s benefactors stand to make money off a defeat and her draw as a Director would be funded by those people.

It’s odd that Ms. Hunt, who does not reside in East County (she lives in Walnut Creek) and will not be affected by Measure S is raising a stink about Measure S. Same holds true for Arne Simonsen who acknowledged he was one of the Board Members. As much as Arne Simonsen likes to believe he is in East County, he lives in Antioch and will not be affected by Measure S.

The reality is this is a membership driven Association with fees ranging from $50 to $5,000.  It’s a club. It’s a group that actually does not an official representation of any taxpayer group.

This whole idea that they are looking out for the taxpayer is a bunch of baloney.

In the end, listening to them gets you higher insurance costs which is more than the actual tax will cost you, while it reduces your service levels and gets people killed.


About burkforoakley

I call it like I see it . I love my city, I love my community and I want what is best for the people around me. Do the right thing, I will support you. Do the wrong thing, I will oppose you!
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10 Responses to Taxpayer Association Arguments Get People Killed

  1. Ryan says:

    Mrs. HUNT,
    Hopefully you get the opportunity to read this article. I think the author has given you fair warning that you are fighting a losing battle. You clearly have no factual data to support your opinion. I am amazed that you have made these statements publicly. My advise to you is to change your name and move to a different state where nobody will know who you are, this should prevent you from any further embarrassment.

    • Greg says:

      Ryan, this tax increase is only to fund firefighter pensions and such. If the union was reasonable in its dealings with ECCFPD they could keep all stations opened and all firefighters employed. But the greed of the firefighters in holding the residents of the district hostage is appalling. When the contract comes up for renewal the district should out source the service.

    • wendylack says:

      @ Ryan:

      We’ll know who fought a “losing battle” on the evening of June 5th. At present it appears that East County voters are unimpressed by the Yes on Measure S campaign’s arguments.

      Mr. Simonsen’s comments below correctly state that the Board of Directors of the taxpayers association make decisions on ballot positions — i.e., Hunt does not work in a vacuum or have authority to take ballot positions independent from the association’s board. Accordingly, the ad hominem attacks on Hunt are uncalled for and reflect negatively on the Yes on Measure S campaign.

  2. jeff b says:

    As for your continual use of insurance rate hike scare tactics….. there is no way you can say absolutely that my home will see a rate increase at the levels you stated or even that there will be any increase at all. You just can’t do it, it is impossible for you to make that claim. Not all insurance companies rate the same and not all of them factor in the same things. If you can prove it then prove it… Your anecdotal comparison to some cases in the Morgan area can not be extrapolated to any particular home and certainly not to every home in the entire district. If what you are saying has any truth then please provide hard evidence specific to the amounts you posted. Failure to do so substantiates that all you are doing is trying to scare people with false & misleading claims that you are representing as fact.

    I liken this whole ‘more tax into a dysfunctional situation’ to continuing to give drugs to a drug addict. They are going to be an addict (or worse) until you stop giving them drugs. We are never going to have a fire/EMS service that is viable in the ‘new normal’ economic conditions of this county until the BOS gets some guts or until the money runs out and the issue is forced. Both county fire departments need to scrapped and a new fire department with pay, benefits & overhead that can be sustained needs to emerge.

    And before you come back saying ECCFPD is already under paid …..please consider that a better argument can be made that all the fire departments you compare against are over paid. If just about every fire department can’t meet payroll and if the unfunded liabilities are staggering….there is no other responsible resolution then to revise compensation to levels that can be afforded. Home valuations are not going to return to the ridiculous bubble levels and you can’t keep adding on more and more taxes. This (escalating) $197 new tax is not even a real short-term fix let alone a solution to the problem. All it does is give more drugs to a drug addict.

    Let’s face it, when we need the fire department it is a really bad day and on that bad day we all want reasonable service provided by competent individuals. I am convinced when you factor out the special interests and the political stupidity there is enough or very near enough funding in this county to get the job done and make that job a decent/stable job choice for those who decide to do it at the compensation that will be available. Yes, to get this done it will require change and change is hard…but it has to be done sooner or later….there is no other real long-term solution.

    I say because the county BOS failed to act when they should have the needed change is going to be harder but lets not give them any more slack. Let’s make them earn their pay and tackle this hard situation.

  3. Bob says:

    Jeff, a straight up question on your approach. Not throwing you any BS or zingers, because we are in the same sinking boat.

    Let’s outline the problem with the figures from the Chief’s table. The one that Kris Hunt cites in her comments, but has since refused to talk about. We’ll take 3 line items and one other external which are major cost drivers on the expenditure side. For the sake of simplicity, though it is not realistic, we are going to leave wages and pension costs flat for the 10 year model period. Doing that just to keep the math problem as simple as possible.

    On the revenue side for this exercise we are going with your demand to keep it inextricably linked to property values and the existing Prop 13 limits. No new revenue to be added above that.

    To summarize; revenue remains linked ONLY to Prop 13 and property value flux in the market. Expenditures have to be linked to normal external cost drivers, obviously.

    – Over the 10 year period Administrative and fixed costs are projected to rise by 36%
    – Over the 10 year period station costs, presumably things like utilities and fuel costs, are projected to rise by 51%
    – Over the 10 year period CalFire contract costs are projected to rise by 60%
    – From any number of outside studies of healthcare costs, we have to factor a 100% rise over the 10 years in the individual market and perhaps 50-60% in the group market which would be a direct factor here.

    Those are all costs which are very real yet the District has absolutely no control over them.

    Some other points which may color your answer:

    – ConFire would obviously be under the same cost pressures
    – ConFire’s projected budget deficit dwarfs ECCFPD’s, suggesting a combined District is even less viable
    – The Board of Supervisors cannot use general fund monies to address this problem for a host of Prop 218 reasons

    The question is simple: How do you reconcile that budget deficit with your plan?

    Headline rhetoric, generally speaking, gets dismissed by the reading public. So provide whatever level of detail that you see fit to qualify your idea.


  4. Arne Simonsen says:

    Mike, you disappoint me. CoCoTax represents taxpayers all taxpayers in the county, and that includes east county.
    CoCoTax has taken positions on school bond measures and parcel taxes throughout the county. The same goes for any other ballot measure involving bonds, sales tax increases, assessments and parcel taxes.
    The CoCoTax board gathers information directly from the districts and cities proposing the ballot measures. We invite representatives to speak to the board to present the rationale for their proposal.
    As the Executive Director of CoCoTax, Kris can only speak based on the board’s direction; so you seem to be wanting to shoot the messenger when the executive director is only following the board’s decision.
    Perhaps you are unaware of the guest speakers at our monthly CoCoTax meetings who are known statewide.
    CoCoTax does not work in a vacuum, as you appear to be suggesting. The board consists of attorneys, business owners, association representatives, former and current elected officials, former Grand Jury members and their ilk.
    CoCoTax is recognized as one of the most active taxpayer associations in the state.
    CoCoTax even has guidelines for cities, special districts and the county to use to help them put together a ballot measure that CoCoTax could endorse.

  5. Ken Hambrick, Chairman, Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers says:

    More than a factual presentation good old burkforoakley is all twisted up in an emotional diatribe against CCTA and especially Kris Hunt. While fire protection is essential, the cost we pay for it is exhorbitant. This is true in all fire districts.

    The cause of the revenue shortfall is the outrageous compensation (salary and benefits) paid to the firefighters compounded by the inflexibility of their union. Before asking for more money, the union and management should look in-house for compensation and work rule adjustments.

    If these were addressed with an open mind, I am sure the money problems would be mitigated. But as burkforoakley says, this will happen when pigs fly. It’s easier to make an emotional appeal to the public for more tax money.

    It’s time for this district to learn to live within its budget. This means meeting the problem of over compensation head-on. Until that happens there will be no permanent solution to this district’s financial problems.

    No, I am not impacted by Measure S (I live in Walnut Creek) but expect ConFire to soon be coming up with a similar tax proposal using the same specious arguments. Our organization represents citizens from all parts of the county.

    And we support Kris Hunt and CCTA.

    • Bob says:

      Mr. Hambrick, perhaps you can explain how the existing model is viable.

      On the revenue side feeding this and most fire districts in California is a property tax stream that is quite volatile. Obviously in a major trough and unlikely to recover at anything above anemic rates for years.

      But on the costs side you have all the major drivers like utilities and fuel and health care and actual wage earning people who experience cost pressures that all American households do.

      There is obviously no tracking link between those two sides of the equation. So how do you reconcile that problem? Because if you can’t, then no one should take your commentary or your policies at CoCoTax seriously. Because yours is not a real solution that addresses the root problem.

      Rather that dancing around the fairly straight forward question, please just don’t respond if you can’t provide a logical solution.

  6. Arne Simonsen says:

    Contra Costa Times editorial: East County fire tax is irresponsible and should be rejected

    The newly independent East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, once controlled by the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, has been run by local representatives for two years. The transition came as district revenues were plummeting because of declining property tax revenues.

    Whereas the district — serving Brentwood, Oakley, Bethel Island, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Byron, Marsh Creek and Morgan Territory — collected $12.2 million in 2007-08, it’s expecting just $7.7 million from property taxes in fiscal year 2012-13. Before 2010, the district was staffing eight stations. Next year, it could be down to three. Clearly, the district needs money.

    However, Measure S on the June 5 ballot is not the answer.The proposed 10-year tax, starting at $197 per parcel and increasing to as much as $257 annually, demonstrates no fiscal discipline and fails to address out-of-control retirement costs.

    Let’s understand the size of the proposal. Measure S would raise $8.6 million the first year, more than doubling the district’s income. That would not only restore the district to its peak revenue level of five years ago, it would add 40 percent

    This tax would become the district’s primary income source. In 10 years, residents would face enormous pressure to renew it. Thus, Measure S essentially would be a permanent increase.

    Rather than address the underlying fiscal crisis, the district proposes to irresponsibly add paramedic services and increase staffing. At least one firefighter on every engine would be a paramedic.

    District officials have done no cost-benefit analysis of this. The district’s polling shows that paramedics are not a top community priority. Adding paramedics would increase salary costs — and exacerbate the district’s retirement cost problem.

    The district’s pension and retiree health care plans already are underfunded by $29 million — a debt equal to nearly four years of current district property tax revenues.

    Pension costs currently add 79 cents to every dollar of payroll. That will reach 98 cents by 2014-15, even if the district does not add paramedics.

    The district projects that costs for promised retiree health benefits will increase from about 9 percent of payroll this year to roughly 35 percent a decade from now.

    In other words, district officials know they will be spending far more on retirement benefits than on salaries. That’s unsustainable and inexcusable. Yet, Measure S does not confront the problem.

    Before placing the ballot measure before voters, the district and firefighters should have negotiated substantial labor contract changes to reduce retirement costs for existing employees and trim benefits for new workers.

    Instead, they have simply postponed contract negotiations until after the election, hoping there will then be more tax money to play with. If voters approve Measure S, that will temporarily remove pressure to rein in these huge costs but won’t solve the underlying crisis.

    The district should try again. But first: Develop a binding plan that responsibly addresses retirement debts and future costs. Put language in the ballot measure to ensure the savings can’t be undone. And make do with a smaller tax.

    Then let’s talk.

  7. Bob says:

    Arne, since when is collective bargaining of pensions done at a ballot box? Are you and fellow CoCoTax Director Hambrick proposing a new paradigm that isn’t quite legal here?

    The claim that the district wasn’t polled for the paramedic issue is false. There were over 20 community outreach meetings. I attended a few of them. If the CCTimes or CoCoTax didn’t bother to listen in or attend, that’s on you.

    Are you and Mr. Hambrick unaware of the 1/3 drop in 5 years in revenue or just conveniently leaving it out of the talking points? In the face of that revenue hit, what are yours and CoCoTax proposals to address rising costs that are even outside the pension issue? Just continue to expect the fire fighters to soak those up through future wage concessions? On top of the fact that you are giving no allowance for even future COLA in your commentary?

    An ECCFPD starting fire fighter makes $17/hr and you call that “outrageous compensation”? I think your characterization is insulting.

    I find it odd the fact has been brought to your group’s attention several times that “trying again” is a proposition that costs money. Real money. But you don’t even address that. From a district that can’t even keep the doors open on what they have now. THAT is a fine example of “irresponsible governance” that your group likes to throw about as a term.

    Perhaps you can better answer a question that Ms. Hunt seems determined to avoid. Does changing the pension model fix the existing $3.7M budget gap? If it doesn’t then how can anyone read your actions any differently than the fact that you are using public safety has a pawn to further your agenda on pensions?

    Or are we going to start some silly argument that closing 3 stations isn’t going to be a massive hit to public safety? I’m fine with starting that sidebar discussion if you like.

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