Fire board makes administrative position part-time

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By Vicky Gits

The fire district board voted March 10 to downgrade a vacant, part-time/permanent, administrative assistant position to a part-time, maximum six-month position at an annual pay rate of $25,000.

The move echoes the board’s decision last year to downgrade the human resources position from full-time to part-time, conditional only for six months, meaning the 30-hour job could be either extended or terminated at the end of the period.

The action came in a regular meeting of the Evergreen Fire Protection District board on March 10.

The vote was a compromise after a divided board defeated the idea of making it a temporary job only.

The fire department employs 33 full-time and five part-time employees. The 2009 budget is $4.2 million. Salaries, pensions and benefits constitute $1.8 million, or 43 percent, of the budget.

Board member Charles Simons made the motion to make the job temporary, and Jeff DeDisse voted in favor. President Chick Dykeman, George Goldbach and George Kling voted against. It is not a new position but a replacement for the open position created by Heather Rogers’ resignation.

As chairman of the maintenance task force, Goldbach reported that his research indicated the fire department needed an assistant whose main duty was helping fleet manager Evan Fosler, who is paid $74,000 a year, as well as other managers.

“Do we want to free up Evan to put wrenches on the nuts? The answer was yes,” Goldbach said. “The question is recordkeeping. It’s extremely important, but it takes away from Evan’s other duties.” Goldbach recommended hiring a part-time assistant.

Simons suggested it would be better to hire someone already inside the organization to take on additional duties. “Why are we adding something when everybody else is cutting back?” Simons said.

“We are looking at 15 to 30 additional hours a week. I don’t see it coming out of someone else’s job,” said Fire Chief Garry DeJong. “I’ll follow that suggestion, but tasks will stack up. If it was someone who could jump on it right away, I would do it, but I think it’s going to pile up.”

DeJong said the department had received 200 applications for the part-time job.

“The premise was to help Evan do what he’s most experienced at doing. He was getting overwhelmed by paperwork,” Dykeman said.

Evan Soibelman, a captain in the volunteer firefighters organization, suggested recruiting community members as nontraditional volunteers, something other departments are doing.

The discussion ended with a unanimous vote making the part-time job conditional for six months, meaning the position has to be re-evaluated at the end of the period.

Employee survey

The board was generally in favor of conducting a new employee/volunteer survey, as long as it was shorter than the previous one. The fire chief suggested using an Internet-based survey system called Zoomerang, which would relieve staffers of the arduous chore of compiling the results by hand. A target date of June or July was suggested. There was some discussion about deleting answers that could be described as personal attacks and identified people by name.

Accounting software

The board unanimously approved the cost of buying new SAGE Fund accounting software for $22,600. “Our current system,

Quickbooks, does not provide the district with a financially secure software package, nor does it provide the fund accounting mechanism we need as a public entity,” writes finance director Brent Worthington in the appropriation request form. Worthington expects the software to be implemented in June or July. The price includes $9,235 for installation, conversion, training and local support. First-year maintenance and support is $2,673. The balance is for modules covering accounts receivable, general ledger, accounts payable, bank reconciliation, budget management, data import and export, and purchase orders.

Tanker/tender acquisition

The tanker/tender committee received three bids. The maximum cost is expected to be about $325,000.

Communications grant

The department was ranked No. 14 in line for a $250,000 grant to pay half the cost of an improved radio system and possible VHF migration. Between 25 and 30 requests are expected to get funding. Acceptance notices are expected in April and May.

911 Authority Board

Deputy Chief Nick Boukas was elected to the 911 Authority Board.

Emergency Medical Services

Received $4,218 grant for EKG download software from state.

April meeting

The board meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at Evergreen Fire/Rescue Administrative Offices, 1802 Bergen Parkway 80439.