RMWD revises fire-related fees, employee pension contribution

   Ramona Municipal Water District directors approved revising fire fees and charges for fire permits, operational and development related services, after holding a public hearing at its Nov. 10 meeting.

   In another matter, district employees will pay 1 percent of contributions to their public retirement fund.

   No one from the public appeared at the fire service-related fee hearing to speak or ask questions.

   The district published notices of the hearing in the Sept. 10 and Nov. 5 issues of the

Ramona Sentinel

.

   Fire Marshal Saul Villagomez was available for questions at the public hearing, but the only question came from Board President Jim Robinson regarding the fees and inspections for permanent pit barbecues and special, non-reoccurring pits.

   With the new fee schedule, a miscellaneous burn permt for a pit barbecue that Villagomez said will be used on a recurring basis will be $25 annually. A miscellaneous burn permit for a pit barbecue that is for special public events that are non-recurring will be $35 each occurrence. A fire and safety inspection will be required for both types of pit barbecues.

    RMWD General Manager Ralph McIntosh said CalFire brought the revised fee schedule before the board at its Aug. 25 meeting, where there were some concerns expressed by board members. The board directed staff to look over several areas and bring back a revised ordinance to the board.  McIntosh said the weed abatement section was eliminated because the district has a contract with Fire Protection Services.

   The fee schedule was adopted in 1999 and revised in March 2008, changing the fee to review building plans.  After a recent review, CalFire found that the fees were outdated and did not reflect the true cost of performing such duties as fire and safety inspections.

   The board also approved adoption of amendments to “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) and “order of the board” (order) that would require a 1 percent employee contribution to their retirement fund, effective Jan. 1, 2010,  and would include a possible 1 percent cost of living increase, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

   Under the current MOU and order, which would expire Dec. 31, 2011, the district pays 100 percent of the employees’ CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System) pension contribution.  

   A memo prepared by RMWD Human Resources Manager Annette Finley states that, due to the economic downturn and increasing costs of public pensions, many agencies are requiring employees to share in the cost of their pensions.

   The district and RMWDEA (Ramona Municipal Water District Employees Association) reached an agreement that in exchange for employees paying 1 percent of their CalPERS employee contribution, the district tentatively agreed to extend the MOU for one year and include an option for up to a 1 percent cost-of-living increase on Jan. 1, 2012, based on the (Western) consumer price index (CPI) at that time.

   The approximate cost for a 1 percent increase for all employees is $34,000.  The cost benefit of each employee’s 1 percent contribution is not known at this time.

   
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