SANTA ANA — In large part due to the outsourcing of the Santa Ana Fire Department services to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), and amendments to employee contracts, Santa Ana’s financial picture is looking brighter than it was several months ago.
Tonight, during the presentations portion of the City Council meeting, the contract between the City and OCFA for fire and emergency medical services will be signed. Mayor Miguel Pulido and Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) Board Chair Mark Tettemer will sign the contract and officially merge the Santa Ana Fire Department and OCFA. Plans and training are now underway for the 192 firefighters and 12 civilian personnel that are transitioning.
In a Voice of OC Article today Adam Elmahrek reveals a sunny outlook on the city’s financial picture for the remainder of this year and into next.
Six months ago, the city of Santa Ana was in a $30 million budget hole and the corridors of City Hall echoed with whispers of bankruptcy. Employees feared the city wouldn’t make its payroll, while a major credit rating agency called the its financial picture bleak.
But that picture has brightened considerably since then – so much so that interim City Manager Paul Walters is now declaring that not only will the budget be balanced going into the 2012-13 fiscal year, but the city will have a little money left over to put in its reserve fund.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done – a tremendous amount of work to be done,” said Walters, who is also the city’s police chief. “But we’re out of crisis mode. We’re healing.”
Brighter-than-projected economic circumstances and the retiring of dozens of employees also play a role. But the biggest reason is the City Council’s decision last month to dismantle the city’s fire department and outsource its services to the Orange County Fire Authority.
On tonight’s agenda the City Council is set to approve amendments to various contracts with city employee groups including executive and general management employees who will now pay 8% towards their pension plans for those at the 2.75 @ 55 level, and 9% for those at the 3% at 50 for public safety members. The Santa Ana Management Association agreement (Item 25E) also defers their scheduled 3.5% salary increase for one year to July 1, 2013. Employees in the Confidential Association of Santa Ana unit are giving up their 2% raise scheduled for January 1st of this year until the next contract is negotiated.
Total savings from these amendments are estimated to come in at $707,177.