- For the Huffington Post story, click here.
The Los Angeles City Council has adopted a $6.9-billion budget for the next fiscal year that cuts and rearranges city services, including the LAFD Deployment Plan that set off a firestorm of concern among Chatsworth and Porter Ranch residents.
Many residents feared delayed response times for ambulances and fire trucks including those equipped with the Jaws-of-Life to free victims of serious car crashes.
Council President Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that the Council rejected both borrowing money to balance the budget and cuts in public safety, while restoring library services to the city.
Councilman Greig Smith, who represents Council District 12 including Chatsworth and Porter Ranch, supported the new deployment plan saying it not only protected his district but the entire city of Los Angeles.
Smith, who is retiring next month and was on the Budget and Finance Committee for years, said the new plan reflects the reality of today’s needs.
"No one likes what we have today and what we have been doing for the past year. That was a bad plan, but a plan motivated by finances,” Smith said.
At one point he quoted Albert Einstein who said insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Smith also said his district is losing more services than any other district, but the
plan modernizes the department, that it is the best plan and everyone needs to move forward. He was not available Thursday for further explanation.
The fire department deployment plan, passed by a unanimous Council vote, was approved with two amending motions.
The first restores funding to the department to re-open resources, should the labor union agree to contract concessions. In turn, those funds will be returned to the fire department, specifically $6.9 million dollars in anticipated concessions from labor negotiations.
Also part of the amendment required the fire department to use the same data analysis system that was used to create the deployment plan to determine what neighborhood services will be restored.
The city will continue negotiating with the firefighters' union to get members to contribute more to their pensions and health costs.
The second amending motion keeps 318 vacant positions intact, opening the doors to hire more personnel should additional revenues come back to the fire department.
The deployment plan should save the city $54 million this year and eliminates what
fire officials called “brown outs.” During “brown outs,” 22 fire engines were taken out of service on a rotating basis.
Under the new plan, deployment of engines and ambulances is based on the number of calls to each station, thereby increasing medical response capability, fire
Most of the deployment plan begins on July 5, but some operations begin next month.
All along, fire officials who have called the plan fluid and subject to adjustment if necessary said the deployment plan brings stability to the Chatsworth and Porter Ranch fire stations and solves a staffing problem under the department’s current Modified Coverage Plan.
The deployment plan decreases the number of fire trucks, engines and staffed ambulances and reshuffles personnel, which has led to concerns over cuts to emergency services and potentially longer LAFD response times.
The city was facing a $336-million budget deficit.
Under the deployment plan no firefighters, paramedics or EMTs would lose their jobs, nor would fire stations close.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has five days to sign or veto all of parts of the budget.