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BUENA PARK : Ruling on Fire Dept. Fate Is Due Tonight

City leaders are expected to decide tonight whether to eliminate the municipal Fire Department and enter into a contract with the county to provide fire protection and paramedic services.

A 6 p.m. public hearing preceding the vote is expected to draw many residents who are opposed to merging fire services with County Fire Department. The hearing will be held in the City Council Chambers, 6650 Beach Blvd.

Resident Terry Longacre said he will present a petition to the council signed by more than 500 people who are against the plan.

“There has not been one person who has wanted to go with the county plan,” Longacre said of his canvassing efforts. He said he expects a strong effort by residents at the meeting to urge that the council place the issue on the ballot.

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The city began considering eliminating the Fire Department a year ago as a money-saving device.

In a report to the council prepared for tonight’s meeting, City Manager Kevin O’Rourke said that by contracting with the county, the city could realize a onetime cost savings of $1.27 million, and could save $800,000 in addition over the next four fiscal years.

The onetime surplus would be reduced to $414,000 by the costs of converting fire services to the county, paying city fire employees’ sick leave and vacation pay, and establishing a sick leave bank for employees.

The county’s contract proposal calls for dropping one of the four engine companies in the city and would cost Buena Park $4.7 million a year.

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If a contract is signed, the Fire Department’s 59 sworn personnel would be offered jobs with the county and could continue to work out of the three fire stations in the city.

The city’s firefighters’ union has endorsed the county merger and has also urged the council to enter into a contract with the county.

The council held two public information meetings in April on the proposal.


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