Fire Engine 17 (Service Area from Central LB To ELB) Still Isn't Restored Despite Council Vote Directing Mgm't "To Identify New Revenue" To Do So; Councilman Supernaw Audibly Irked Makes Public Safety Committee Motion For Mgm't Explanation At Coming Council Meeting
|(Feb 27, 2019, 8:50 a.m.) -- At the Feb. 26 meeting of the City Council's Public Safety Committee (Price, Supernaw, Austin), LBFD acknowledged that Fire Engine 17 at Station 17 (Argonne Ave. NE of the Traffic Circle, with a wide service area stretching from Central LB to ELB) has NOT been restored, promting a Committee motion from 4th dist. Councilman Daryl Supernaw to seek a city management explanation at a prime time full City Council meeting.
A September 2018 City Council FY19 budget vote directed city management "to identify new revenue" to restore Engine 17. At the Feb. 26 Public Safety Committee meeting, an LBFD rep told the Committee that it's prepared to restore Engine 17 "as soon as it's structurally funded." ("Structural funding" means a revenue source for ongoing funding year after year.)
The absence of city management at the Committee meeting to explain what happened (or more precisely what hasn't happened) halfway into the FY19 budget year audibly irked Councilman Supernaw (on-demand audio below) who expressed bewilderment at why Engine 17 still hadn't been restored despite last year's Council vote.
Supernaw, who took office in May 2015 (and faces re-election in 2020 if he chooses to seek it) has prioritized restoring Engine 17. In January 2014, a multi-unit residence burned across the street from Station 17 (LBREPORT.com coverage here) while Station 17 didn't have Engine 17 to spray water on it to douse the flames. (An engine had to come from further away while the fire doubled in size every minute.) That happened because a previous Council (that included then-Councilman/Vice Mayor Robert Garcia) had "balanced" City Hall's spending budgets by erasing Engine 17 under what then-Mayor Bob Foster labeled "proportional budget reductions."
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Despite June 2016 LB voter approval of the Measure A ("blank check") sales tax increase (that Councilman Supernaw joined in putting on the ballot), restoring Engine 17 wasn't included in City Management's proposed FY17 or FY18 budgets or in Mayor Garcia's budget recommendations for either of those years. Instead, under LBFD's indicated priority for restorations, the Council first restored Engine 8 (Belmont Shore) and Rescue 12 (NLB).
The City Manager's proposed FY19 budget also didn't include restoring Engine 17, although Mayor Garcia's budget recommendations (approved by the Council) asked city management "to identify new revenue" to restore Engine 17. At a July 31, 2018 press event, Mayor Garcia said he was "confident we can make these restorations in 2019" and likened the situation to FY17 [when the Council pressed management to identify funds at mid-budget-year that restored NLB Rescue 12 and added nine police officers beyond eight initially budgeted.] To hear Mayor Garcia's statement last year, see VIDEO clip from LBREPORT.com coverage below:
Councilman Supernaw attended the July 31, 2018 budget press event and at that time told LBREPORT.com he was pleased by the Mayor's statement. Roughly seven months later with Engine 17 still not restored, Councilman Supernaw was definitely not pleased.
To hear Councilman Supernaw's Public Safety Committee response following LBFD's statement citing the need for Engine 17, click here.
The issue is now slated for management explanation at an upcoming Council meeting.
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