Witt Says He Made “an Unpopular Decision” But Lay The Groundwork For Future Success As KCFD Prepares For New Boss | news

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David Witt’s two years as chief fire officer for Kern County proved to be one of the toughest fire departments ever.

Handicapped by severe budget deficits, Witt leads the worst forest fire season in the state’s history, a pandemic that requires the isolation of up to 20 firefighters at a time, and the Ridgecrest earthquake. did. But as he prepares to hand over the division to the next chief Aaron Duncan, Witt sees his job almost done.

“What we tried, we achieved,” he told reporters on Thursday. “We have the feeling that we looked back at the fire brigade with the help of others. It may not be visible yet. My employees may not be able to see everything yet, but it has come. “

During Witt’s tenure, the fire brigade found itself in an unstable financial position, plagued by a persistent structural deficit that had exhausted resources from other district sectors for years. Witt was forced to describe what he called an “unpopular decision” and allowed firefighters to fill positions to save money by working overtime. It’s cheaper than hiring additional staff.

But now the county says the deficit is gone thanks to $ 4 million in cash from general sources, more-than-expected revenue, and federal pandemic support.

When Witt took office, his department did not save. Currently, Witt said, KCFD has saved $ 30 million. The department is now able to fill 70 positions that were vacant last year in order to save costs.

“Now it’s time for a new group to take it to a new level,” said Witt. “We have set up a foundation. It is time for you to join this wonderful fire station, wonderful County Khan. “

The oversight committee worked quickly to replace Witt. Less than two weeks after Witt publicly announced his resignation, the board of directors nominated Duncan as the next boss. The board interviewed six candidates and ended up with one of the four deputy bosses.

“We considered all the options and presented a number, but we felt that time is important and that we have a very strong internal candidate,” said CEO Philip Peters. I’m going. “I think it makes sense from the executive board’s point of view to see what they have experienced and what qualities they have brought with them. I’m not going to talk about the rest of the board, but I’m in the department. Going with either of us seemed like a general consensus that it made sense, given the limitations we had. “

Duncan will take command on July 19, giving Wit more than two weeks to cast a shadow as he learns the basics of his new position. Allowing new bosses time for a seamless transition was seen as key to the speedy appointment of Wit’s successors. In addition to Wit, three members of the HQ have also announced their resignation.

However, not all of the “unpopular decisions” have been made as to what challenges the next boss will face.

The district is still negotiating new contracts with nine cities that have contracts with KCFD for fire fighting. This contract now enables cities to pay for services less than they cost to provide them.

Regulators have approved plans to increase the amount the city has to pay to keep the fire brigade in use. It is important to find a new arrangement to prevent the department from creating another deficit.

“We’re stable, but we’re not ahead of the game,” CEO Ryan Allsop wrote in an email.

He added that many other priorities for the county, such as hiring more lawmakers and meeting the needs for fire fighting equipment, have not yet been addressed.

“Maintaining our financial position for the next year and being able to meet many of the county’s key needs going forward depends entirely on the continued and consistent growth of our county’s key revenue streams,” he said. Continuation. “We must achieve, over the next few years, increasing the power of the oil and gas sector, controlled spending, stable pension-related costs and revenues to fund all major public safety and quality of life services. Includes the success of important work that needs to be done. “

Witt Says He Made “an Unpopular Decision” But Lay The Groundwork For Future Success As KCFD Prepares For New Boss | news Source link Witt Says He Made an “Unpopular Decision” but laid the foundation for future success as KCFD prepares for new boss news

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