OCEANSIDE — A renewed contract between the City of Oceanside and Oceanside Firefighters’ Association (OFA) and Oceanside Fire Management Association (OFMA) will have firefighters pay the full employees’ portion of retirement benefits, take away minimum staffing provisions and put a cap on management level salaries.
These contract updates will save the city $251,774 in 2012-13 and $457,258 annually in following years.
OFA president Daniel Gonzales said firefighters consider the agreement a reasonable compromise on the part of firefighters and the city.
“It’s the best deal for both sides we can agree to right now,” Gonzales said.
City Council OK’d the contract in a 3-2 vote Wednesday, with Councilmen Jerry Kern and Gary Felien voting no.
Felien credited firefighters for their service, but voiced opposition to the contract. He said the terms fell short of saving the city enough money. He pointed to costs incurred by 2010 contract provisions for salaries and pensions.
“It doesn’t get us back to that break even point,” Felien said. “Commitment doesn’t make money. You’ve got to do the math. It came up a little bit short.”
Felien gave kudos to some of the contract points. He applauded firefighters paying their full percentage of public employees retirement fees, and supported nixing the agreement to provide minimum staffing.
“The minimum level of staffing was a featherbedding issue,” Felien said.
Gonzales had the opposite reaction to ending the minimum staffing requirement. He said it eliminates a service level safety net for the community and causes him concern. Gonzales added that it opens the door for the city to reduce staffing and brown out stations.