Since taking the helm as Mayor (about six months ago), the Council has set out to review every contract and meet with virtually every vendor to (1) get to know those that help support our citizens and government, (2) better understand the purpose and necessity of the services, (3) review the suitability of the service providers, (4) identify ways and negotiate terms that will improve efficiencies and lower costs, (5) ensure that legal standards are in place that protects the City and its citizens, (6) and to ensure that measures of accountability are in place.
The one contract that accounts for the largest city expenditure is also the most outdated, which is the contract with the MCVFD (view 2017 MCVFD contract). Following are some details of the contract:
- The MCVFD’s fiscal year begins on January 1, while the City’s and all other governmental agencies in the state, begins October 1.
- The entire amount budgeted by the City has traditionally been paid in one lump sum to the MCVFD at the beginning of every year, including in 2017.
- Except for the amount paid by the City, the contract between the MCVFD and the City has not changed in over five years.
- Its term is between January 1- December 31.
- It includes no standards for:
- the number of firefighters that are guaranteed to be available,
- the qualifications and experience of the firefighters and command staff,
- the days of the week that the station will be manned,
- the on-duty hours of firefighters and command staff,
- the compensation rates for:
- on-duty firefighters,
- in-district firefighters,
- volunteer firefighters,
- command staff,
- the level of service that will be provided,
- the expected response times,
- the type of calls that the MCVFD will respond to,
- the equipment that will be used,
- how the MCVFD will respond to calls in the unincorporated area of the fire district,
- how the MCVFD will respond to mutual aid calls with other cities.
- how other cities will respond to mutual aid calls from MCVFD,
- how the department will account for and report activity,
- standards of ethics &/or conduct when serving the community.
While the terms of the contract for the City are clear (we pay the amount stipulated), terms for the MCVFD are not just ill-defined, but completely undefined! Each year the City has obligated itself to a contract for which there are no standards of accountability implied or otherwise.
No citizen would sign a one-sided contract that obligates them to pay for a service with absolutely no explanation of what services they will receive in return, nor would someone pay the full amount in advance for a service, especially when that payment comes with absolutely no guarantees.
This City Council is no longer willing to sign contracts that lack the most basic elements of expected outcomes.
The fact that this expenditure accounts for more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the city’s total annual budget amplifies the importance of ensuring that the City is getting what we are paying for.