Agendas and Minutes

Citizens' Budget Committee (View All)

Police, Fire and Rescue

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Agenda for the Budget Committee Meeting

Police, Fire and Rescue


May 9, 2002, 7:00pm

City Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street



Present: Ray Olsen, Russ Silbiger, Jim Moore, Marty Levine, Alan DeBoer, Roberta Stepahin, Diana Goodwin-Shavey, Don Laws, David Williams and Cate Hartzell.

Staff: Greg Scoles, Lee Tuneberg, Keith Woodley, Scott Fleuter, Mike Bianca, Dave Hard, Greg Case, and Kirsten Bakke.

Others: Miles Murphy (Daily Tidings).


Levine called the meeting to order at 7:07pm.


Police Page 3-29

Scott Fleuter, Police Chief and Mike Bianca, Police Lieutenant presented for the Ashland Police Department's 2002-2003 budget. Fleuter gave an overview of the Department's two divisions, Operations and Support. He described some of the goals for the coming year including focusing on traffic enforcement (Education, Enforcement, and Engineering), with the Department playing a key role in Enforcement and Education. He said the prioritization was to work on pedestrian and traffic safety. Fleuter continued giving an overview of the Departments goals including the consolidation of 911 dispatch centers, updating the mobile data computers in the vehicles and state accreditation, to ensure that the Department meets professional standards. He reviewed significant budget changes.

Stepahin asked about the benefit of accreditation. Fleuter replied that CCIS, their insurance company, paid the fee for it because they see accreditation as a good thing for liability and professionalism, and added that more importantly accreditation supported the effectiveness of the Department and set standards in training, equipment, selection processes and evaluations of employees, etc. The discussion regarding accreditation ensued.

Fleuter clarified that there weren't any requests in the parking lot for this budget. He pointed out the addition of two patrol staff in the budget, without having to add two full FTE's. Hartzell questioned the addition of one FTE. Tuneberg said that the baseline included the position. There was more discussion about the additional patrol staff.

Goodwin-Shavey asked about training. Fleuter described the three types of training: 1) scheduled in-service training (8 days a year), 2) specialized training such as field training, and 3) the 6-minute trainer, which occurs during briefing. The Committee discussed department staff, training and military leave. There was a discussion about the use of the baseline in the current budget process. Moore suggested more detail in the narrative. Scoles commented on the long-term budget plan on page 4-11.

Williams asked about standards for police department staffing. Fleuter responded that yes, there are standards, and a general rule is one officer per 1,000. He noted that Grants Pass has 1.7 officers per thousand and Klamath 1.83, Roseberg 1.81, Portland 2.02, and the national average is 1.33. He said that Ashland's Police Department staffing is lower than most. He referred to a study done in 2000, estimating that they need 15 patrol officers to maintain their level of service. He said, more subjectively, he looks at the reality of the shifts, saying that only 67% of the officers are available, considering days off, sick leave, and training. He stated that they often run two officers per shift, and it is at a point where if there is a fight or drunk driver arrest, they're not in a good position. He wants patrol to have a minimum of three officers out at all times so if someone is taking someone to jail, there are still two officers out for the next call. He added that there are times when you want more than three. Moore commented that those figures give the Committee a good understanding of what the Department is trying to achieve. Hartzell asked about the new motorcycle, saying it could be as late as October before the motorcycle officer comes back from military leave. She asked if the new motorcycle would be a carry-over. Fleuter said yes. Hartzell added that it is important to look at the out-year predictions because there are issues in the parking lot that will be competing against each other at the full budget committee meeting. She pointed out the importance of giving equal consideration to those issues approved last year, with the ones that have come up in the meantime. She suggested they give the same consideration to the out-year projection of staff as they would any staff they are considering for this year's budget.

There was some discussion about salary requirements for staff on military leave.

Public Input

Levine opened the meeting for public comment; there were none so the public portion of the meeting was closed.

Approval of Departmental Budget

Williams/Laws m/s to forward budget as presented to the Full Budget Committee for approval. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.


Fire and Rescue Page 3-33

Keith Woodley, Fire Chief introduced Assistant Fire Chief, David Hard, who also serves as Fire Marshall for the City, handling code enforcement work and operations; and Greg Case, EMS/Fire Division Chief, who manages the Emergency Medical Services Division and oversees fire training. Woodley referred to the goals listed in the Proposed Budget document. He said the Department has two divisions: Fire Operations and Emergency Medical Services.

Woodley stated that the most important goal is meeting the Department performance objectives, which includes computerizing the Department records management system. He said they get a lot of requests for information and have to hand-search the files, which is time-consuming. Another goal, he said, is to assist private property owners with wildfire fuel reduction. Levine asked if the City Recorder's request for a system that would archive records would meet their needs for a records management system. Woodley said no, the software would manage the day-to-day needs for the Department. Laws pointed out that the Recorder's request would only record documents, but this software would manipulate the data, as he understood it, so it's a different type of software for a different purpose. Levine wondered if there was a way one system could do both, but thought it didn't look like it would.

Woodley continued the presentation pointing out the upper elevations of the City, where they had been working thinning brush, saying that will continue through the next fiscal year. He said they are currently administering three grants that provide financial assistance to property owners. Woodley said three variables affect their wildfire risk: topography, weather, and vegetation. He said the first two are difficult to manipulate, so they have gone after the third, declaring a war on vegetation. He said one of his duties is to manage 1,000 acres of city-owned forestland. He referred to the new fire station saying that it is moving along briskly with a lot of administrative work. He said bids were opened the previous day for demolition of the buildings and they are going to be moving off-site to their temporary quarters in the B Street yard. He noted they made a decision last year to provide assistance to the School District with regard to emergency preparedness training. Woodley said that in the Fire Operations Division they are looking at integrating shift personnel into code enforcement activities to take some of the burden off Dave Hard. He said a lot of code enforcement activity is processed through the Fire Department currently, which has been steadily increasing this year, and they are looking at innovative ways to shoulder that burden. Woodley gave an overview of the Division saying they provide emergency medical services for 650 square miles, which involves such things as cars over an embankment, accidents on logging roads and low angle rescue, etc. Hartzell asked if Klamath County line was the border to which they responded. Woodley said the boundaries were the Klamath County line to the East, California State line to the South, the North limit is the City of Talent, and West to the National Forest boundary. He then turned the presentation over to Hard to go through the budget, addressing each area where the baseline or inflationary factor was exceeded.

Hard first addressed the decrease in personnel services on the Fire Operations side, while it went up in emergency medical services. He noted that part of that was a correction in this year's budget for a position approved last year, which was supposed to be in the EMS Division, but was shown in the Fire Operations Division. He said that in supplies, the major increase was the cost of clothing replacement for both new and existing employees. Communications, Hard pointed out, has gone up because the cost of replacing the radio headsets and the fire apparatus were more expensive than they had originally thought. He said training has been bumped up because of employee turnover and the cost of basic fire-fighting training for new employees. Hard continued giving an overview of the Operations Division budget answering committee questions about equipment and grants.

Case discussed salaries and wages. In the Supplies area, he said, as with medical costs, as their call volume goes up their costs increase, and last year saw a 35% rise in the cost of medications and the new American Heart Association guidelines created a projected increase in change of medications. Moore asked if that was done on a cooperative basis with other departments. Case said they work with the hospital, and they are in their buying group, so they get the best price possible. He said it would be substantially more, from 53% to 60% higher, if they bought those supplies retail. Hartzell asked for an explanation of the American Heart Association guidelines and the change in medications. Case explained that last year guidelines were set up adopted, so that now an anti-arrhythmic costing $1.63 could cost $1.70. Hartzell asked if that cost is passed on to the user. Case said it was where could be. Woodley clarified that rates are an all-inclusive flat fee, and whatever has to be used to keep the patient alive is covered in that fee. The discussion continued regarding the history and budget for emergency medical services. Hard noted that this is a re-certification year for paramedic and EMT certifications and that fee is reflected in line item 604. Levine asked if re-certification was done by department or by employee. Case said it is done through the State, but the Department pays for their re-certification. The discussion ensued. Case noted an increase under programs directly related to the CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) coordination position. There was more discussion about the Division budget.

Woodley referred to the handout regarding the request for additional staff listed on the Parking Lot, stating it gives a picture of how the Fire Department is staffed and the current issues. He said currently two shifts are staffed at eight, and one is staffed at nine, and minimum on-duty staffing is seven. The union contract, Woodley said, allows up to two personnel off on authorized leave at the same time, and that authorized leave may be training, sick leave, vacation, comp time or family leave. He said on-duty staffing of eight occurs less than 65 days a year. He noted that the minimum staffing per vehicle is two, so they try to provide staff for up to four of the ten emergency vehicles. If the remainders are called out, they're staffed through back-up personnel. The goal is to maintain the force of four at all times, which also brings them in line with the national standards. He referred to a national standard called Two In, Two Out, which indicates that if they have a structural fire and send two people in to combat the fire, there have to be two people outside to effect a rescue if those two people get into difficulty. He stated if there are not four people, they are not to enter except for purposes of imminent rescue, and they're to wait for additional people to arrive at the scene before they can enter. He said the average employee works 48 hours of overtime a month, filling in for under-staffed shifts, however, the call back system is effective about 30% of the time. He said they don't have a residency requirement, so employees live all over the Rogue Valley. He said with an average of 50 to 60 events per month, where two or more medical units are out at the same time on emergency calls, there are probably an average of 10 events per month when three or more units are out at the same time. Woodley drew attention to the distribution of calls for service, noting that there are seven emergency responses per day. He talked about the periods of time when the Department is at lower than required minimum staffing, saying that there are acute gaps which last for a period of time until a unit frees itself and is available again. Woodley said if they added two employees in January, one FTE for this fiscal year and one additional FTE for next fiscal year, that would increase the number of days when staffing is at the appropriate level. He said the object is to meet operational demands. He referred to the number of incidents per day and what time they occur noting that there is clustering. He said it is clear from the graphs that call volume is increasing and he attributed that to the aging populace and construction of retirement housing here. Woodley said the proposal is to bring the other two shifts up to nine, reduce reliance on callback, increase on-duty strength, and try to shave off the peak of the curve currently being experienced. The Committee talked about staffing issues and the contract CERT Coordinator.

Hartzell asked what the acronym BLS and ALS meant, and Woodley clarified Basic Life Support (BLS) and (ALS) Advanced Life Support. There was discussion about ambulance rate increases.

Public Input

Levine noted that there wasn't any public left to open the meeting for public comment.

Approval of Departmental Budget

Hartzell/Olsen m/s to forward budget as presented to the Full Budget Committee for approval. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.


Meeting adjourned 8:57pm.

Respectfully submitted by Kirsten Bakke, Administrative Assistant

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