Letter to Council from Fire Union Saying They “Will Not Sit Back and Watch”

10 July 2017

Council members,

To those of you voting yes in favor of merging our dispatch with SMFR,
thank you!!

To those of you voting no, we are more than disappointed in your decision. Continue reading

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Dispatch Letter to Council Expressing Their Response to the Council Majority’s Vote to Keep Dispatch Services In Littleton

Dispatch – Letter Response to City July 11 2017_signed

 

City Council Study Session 11 July 2017

Littleton City Council Study Session              11 July 2017        Citizen Minutes

There were two items on the study session agenda – Broadband Roadmap and Council Priorities.

Littleton’s Municipal Broadband Roadmap Continue reading

City Council Regular Meeting 27 June, 2017 – Fire Dispatch Decision Made

City Council Regular Meeting                   June 27, 2017                    Citizen Minutes

Public Comment

Pam Chadbourne said she did not like the lighting in downtown and asked the council to write to Xcel asking for warmer lights and to put a skirt on the lamp so there is not so much light pollution. She cautioned the council to do something about the loss of affordable housing through the gentrification process. Littleton is losing affordable housing and council needs to act now. She also asked for the Development Activity List on the city’s web site to be archived rather than disappear.

Consent Agenda

16-2017         Resolution to adopt the South Platte Park Management Plan

17-2017         Resolution adopting the first amendment to the South Platte Park Agreement

17-192           Motion to approve the Minutes of the May 2, 2017 meeting

All three were passed 7/0.

First Reading

16-2017         Ordinance on first reading to approve the Southbridge Planned Development , Fourth Amendment of Area K, to add assisted living, nursing home, memory care, and associated accessory uses to a portion of Area K of the Southbridge Planned Development Care Number APD16-0003

Now in plain English – the subject site is 1501 W. Mineral (Windermere and Mineral area). The applicant is requesting to add assisted living, nursing home, memory care, and associated accessory to the current list of uses. They are also requesting a division of a portion of the property into two commercial lots. The second reading will be July 18th. Debbie Brinkman moved to approve and Phil Cernanec seconded. Motion passed 7/0.

17-2017         Ordinance on first reading for an addendum to Wastewater Connector’s Agreement Addendum and Sewer Service Agreement Addendum with Ken Caryl Ranch Waste and Sanitation. Cernanec moved and Bill Hopping seconded. Motion passed 7/0.

18-2017         Ordinance on first reading to amend Ordinance No. 21 – 2016 known as the Annual Appropriation Bill for the fiscal year 1/1/2017-12/31/2017. This was discussed at the previous study session. The General Fund would be increased by $346,200 for the following:

$134,200       Attorney

$ 49,000         Additional help with roof inspections

$75,000          Contract engineering to help with the considerable influx of new development

$28,000          Consultant to assist with a succession plan for public works and community development

$60,000          Organizational development

Doug Clark moved and Cernanec seconded. Motion passed 7/0.

Ordinances on Second Reading

14-2017         Approval of an intergovernmental agreement to contract emergency dispatch services with Metcom through South Metro Fire Rescue. (This has been an on-going discussion for the last 9 or 10 months and is finally in front of council for a decision.)

Chief Armstrong told the council that the decision to contract our dispatch services through South Metro was independent of unification of our fire department with South Metro. He reviewed the reasons for making the move –

  • We would maintain local control
  • Our liability would decrease
  • A regional approach to dispatch
  • Sets performance standard and the required reporting
  • Current Littleton dispatch employees would be protected
  • Reduction in staff time with fewer employees
  • Would allow for the expansion of the police dispatchers

It was also noted that Cunningham Fire would be ending their contract for dispatch with Littleton effective January 1, 2018 further reducing the revenue the fire department would bring in by $334,000.

Bill Hopping asked about the part-time dispatchers and the impact of the move on them. Armstrong said that only full time employees were protected in the move to South Metro.

There was some discussion on bringing up the pay of Littleton dispatchers to a competitive range with other dispatchers. Julie from Human Resources said it would create a problem to bring up the pay of one classification of employees and not the others. Mark Relph, city manager, agreed that it would be a challenge to increase pay for one group and not the rest.  Armstrong said he would not say that that we were underpaying our dispatchers – we pay a fair wage.

Jerry Valdes asked if it made sense to go to West Metro and Armstrong said he would not make that recommendation because they use a different CAD system.

Public Hearing

Carol Brzeczek thought the move was premature and read from the recommendations made by the consultant hired by the fire department and the city to advise them in the discussion of unification. Recommendation #4 stated,

“Any meaningful decision regarding the Littleton Fire Department, such as equipment purchases, internal organization, employment, promotions, etc., be postponed until this matter is fully resolved. This specifically includes the transfer of Littleton Fire Department fire communications and dispatching.”

The consultant had been hired with high praise from both the fire chief and council liaison to the fire partners, Debbie Brinkman, and to ignore their advice did not seem like the right thing to do.

Brzeczek was also concerned about the lawsuit Chief Baker (South Metro) had filed against the urban renewal authority of Parker for the loss in revenue through tax increment financing. And although the agreement was going to hold costs for 4.5 years, if Baker was not successful in the legal matter the loss of an estimated $16,000,000 over the next 20 years would have to be made up by the patrons which included the citizens of Littleton.

Mark Lampert, President of the Cunningham Fire District, thanked dispatch for their hard work. But, Cunningham needed to move on and would be going with South Metro as of January 1, 2018. He said Littleton has struggled to provide the number of dispatchers needed and Cunningham’s rates had increased in order to add dispatchers but they have not been provided. Dispatchers are over worked and under paid and they (Cunningham) deserved better.

Valerie Park, a Littleton dispatcher since 1990, told council she took pride in the department and enjoyed her work. She said they shared a CAD system with South Metro, West Metro and several Jeffco groups. She did not know if council knew that there had been a hiring freeze since January. At this point Doug Clark asked her to repeat her statement, which she did. She then said that the benefits moving from Littleton to South Metro were not equal with Littleton’s at 27.65% and South Metro’s at 24%.

Pam Chadbourne said she too wondered what would happen to our rates if the UR matter was resolved in favor of the urban renewal authority…….our rates would go up. She pointed out that if we have our own department we could see the costs but when we combine with a region there are lots of things that play into decisions that we can’t see and the larger the area the more unknowns there are that impact decisions. She did not like that Littleton was not paying a competitive rate and we should be able to compete. She thought there was more to this picture and we needed to see what the whole unification agreement would be – there’s a lot we still don’t know.

(The information revealed by Ms. Park has deep implications. The Chief asked for more budget to hire more dispatchers for the 2017 budget cycle. He was granted the additional budget but he put a hiring freeze in place in January of 2017. Then to make a financial comparison of how much money would be saved if we unify with South Metro his graphs used the budgeted amount and not the actual amount spent by fire. The budget was driven up by the need for more dispatchers, they weren’t hired but the higher budget total for fire was used as a comparison to demonstrate the cost savings if we merge with South Metro.   And, we learn that Cunningham terminates their relationship with Littleton because their rates were increased in order to hire more dispatchers……..more dispatchers that were never hired because of a hiring freeze.)

Brinkman moved to contract out our dispatch services to South Metro and Bill Hopping seconded.

Clark referred to the communication from the consultant that suggested this decision be postponed. If we peel off dispatch we remove our flexibility when evaluating other options. It is appropriate to set this decision aside until we know what we are doing – we have a lot of alternatives. It is disturbing to find out that we have a hiring freeze – we approved more positions and then go on a hiring freeze. We are told we need to move dispatch because we have a staffing problem and we aren’t even trying to hire dispatchers to solve the staffing problem.

Jerry Valdes asked Julie, from HR, if we were on a hiring freeze. Julie said we were and when Valdes asked her why she said because she was instructed so by the fire department. Valdes asked if they do out-going interviews and why were dispatchers leaving. Julie said some don’t make it through their probationary period, can’t pass the training or various other reasons. Vales said he was bothered that he has asked what the industry turn over rate is for dispatchers and no one has provided an answer. Julie said she did not know. Valdes then asked what it would take to make Littleton fire top notch. Chief said he did not want to agree with the underlying premise that they weren’t top notch but said the facility needs improvement. Training may lack and a sizable investment would be required in the center but with the proper funding and support we could be there.

Brinkman said the industry turn over rate was 19%. (Littleton’s is 14% – below the national industry standard.)

Valdes to Armstrong – who instructed HR to freeze hiring? Armstrong said they were exploring the opportunity to go to South Metro and they would only take full time employees so they postponed hiring so they would not have to let people go.

Bruce Beckman said there had been a lot of work done in HR and by the attorney on the contract and there were issues of inequity. Julie said there were three employees not vested so they were going to amend their 401A plans to vest them before they left. They had also made arrangements to have their insurance smoothly transitioned without interruption.

Clark read from page 6 of a document from May 16 that stated the inability to fully staff was the primary reason to look for a log-term solution. This discussion started last August. We approved a budget for additional staffing and a hiring freeze was initiated in January. We have successfully run dispatch out of Littleton with 150,000 more population than now – we know how to do it. The primary reason to do this is because we can’t hire dispatchers and we are not even trying. We need to postpone and if there is a concern about the extra 105 days this may take he suggested the fire department fix their problem.

Hopping was worried about a couple of things – he did not like hearing about the hiring freeze at the council meeting. Cunningham leaving did not change the coverage so he saw that as a moot point. He acknowledged that the consultant advised them not to make this decision now but was not pleased that they did not say why.

Relph there are differences in how to approach the issue. Our impression was we could over come the technical issues and it was just a broad, general recommendation to preserve options. Relph’s focus was on safety – we do not have provisions for rest periods and South Metro has extensive training with 4 to 6 dispatchers on at one time. As we move to more and more density our fire needs will increase. This is a big picture kind of move. What is best for the safety of our citizens.

Brinkman said when they started this it was a safety issue and it is a challenge to get ahead of that problem. She thought it was a smart decision and the right move.

Valdes said there are pieces without answers and he could support if he had other options to consider – there has to be other options.

Beckman said he was very uncomfortable. He was never aware that council put any limits on the public safety in their budget sessions. We have fulfilled public safety requirements. Where was the discussion of these issues? There could have been incremental change over the past 4 years. There is no reason not to have the facility we need with the quality of people we have. One issue has always been to keep dispatch. If we need a new fire dispatch center we could have one in six months – we just need the drive to do it.

Now we have Cunningham out and there are issues with our fire partners. He wanted to put Littleton first – we have done this for 40years – with warning we could solve the problem but we didn’t have the chance. Are we intentionally trying to force the decision and there is only one option? He was not comfortable with how this came about. He felt like he was being pushed into something.

Peggy Cole asked if we farm this out why not farm out police and public works – we are a community. It doesn’t seem like the right way to deal with this issue.

Motion failed 3/4 with Brinkman, Hopping and Cernanec voting yes and Clark, Cole, Beckman and Valdes voting no.

Added agenda item

Cernanec asked the council to support the mayor signing a letterpenned by the area agencies on aging to the Governor requesting more funding for Senior Services. The letter was sent to council at 5:30 pm on Monday night and expected to be returned signed by Wednesday.

Clark said their time frame was impossible. He had not even seen the letter until that evening and he had not read it and was not inclined to support something he had not read. He encouraged Cernanec to return at another time after he had time to read and research so he could make an informed decision.

Valdes said the state wastes a lot of money and it may be a wonderful cause but he had seen the state buy new furniture to replace furniture that was absolutely fine but because it was budgeted they bought new furniture. They can’t monitor themselves and citizens have to say no – they have to get their spending under control. He would not support the signing of the letter.

Brinkman thought it was probably an oversight that their budget had not been increased since 2015 but the fastest growing population is over 60.

Motion failed 3/4 with Cole, Clark, Beckman and Valdes voting no.

Reports

Beckman thought council should have a discussion on compensation philosophy. Relph said he had impression about it as well but they need to get a Director of HR hired first and he was not in a position to comment before the budget meetings. They are in the 4th year of a 5 year plan and it is an expensive proposition and the impact is deep……financially and in moral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City Council Study Session 6.13.2017 – Fire Unification, Smart City and Annual Appropriation

City Council Study Session                   13 June 2017               Citizen Minutes

17-184 Review consideration of the Annual Appropriation Bill for fiscal year Jan. 2017-Dec. 2017.  Tiffany Hooten, Finance Director, recommended that the General Fund be increased by $346,200 for the following. Continue reading

City Council Regular Meeting 6 June 2017. (Fire Dispatch discussed)

City Council Regular Meeting                     Citizen Minutes                June 6, 2017

1,.  Meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm.

Present – 7 – Members Peggy Cole, Bill Hopping, Jerry Valdes, Bruce Beckman, Doug Clark, Debbie Brinkman and Phil Cernanec.

2.  Approval of Agenda – Agenda approved as presented

Public Comment

Coral Conway promoted Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Alex Wood, an owner of The Boardroom Sports Bar (old Marie Calendar’s restaurant) asked the council for some guidance on how to change the city code to allow off track betting at their facility.  Red and Jerry’s holds the only license south of 6th Ave and west of C470 and they would like to see their license used at The Boardroom.  The owners would like to feature that as well but the city code does not allow off track betting to occur in the same location where alcohol is served.   Continue reading

City Council Meeting 16 May 2017 – City Manager Appointed

City Council Regular Meeting and Study Session                   16 May 2017                       Citizen Minutes

Public Comment

Kent Bagley told council they should follow their process for hiring the city manager.

Greg Reinke spoke on  behalf of the downtown merchants about the new (and expensive) way finding signs in downtown Littleton.  He was asking the council to reconsider their decision to ban sandwich boards out in front of shops.  The new signs point people down the side streets and there are way too many merchants than what can be accommodated on the signs.   Continue reading