Five Cities Fire Authority seeking pay raises and bonuses

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Five Cities Fire Authority board is slated to approve pay raises and bonuses for all fire personnel on Friday, an item listed on the consent agenda. This is occurring at a time many public agencies are voting to reduce pay and lay off employees.

If passed, fire authority employees will receive a 2 percent pay increase effective May 15, and a one-time lump sum payment of $1,000, which is listed as in lieu of retroactive pay increases.

In April, the board directed its negotiating team to present its last best and final proposal for an agreement with the employee union.

The annual increase will cost the fire authority $49,700, with the charges to be passed onto member agencies: Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and the Oceano Community Services District, all of which are currently facing financial hardships because of the pandemic.

In an effort to stay in the fire authority, Oceano recently attempted to raise taxes, but the ballot measure failed. It is likely Oceano will divest its interest in the fire authority, and begin negotiations with the county to take over its fire department services.

Currently, Arroyo Grande is facing a $1.2 million budget shortfall and Grover Beach is $700,000 in the red, for the current fiscal year.

The board is scheduled to meet on Friday at 10 a.m., by video conference. While the agenda does not include information on how the public can participate remotely during the meeting, the public is permitted to email comments to the fire authority.

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