A new apprenticeship program at the Vacaville Fire Department and an extension of the Vacaville Police Department’s existing Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology were two of the budget items that were emphasized. when Vacaville City Council received the first of two budget review sessions at Tuesday’s meeting. .
The second study session will be presented to the board at its June 14 meeting, with the adoption of the budget scheduled for June 28.
The budget manager reviewed some of the requests for budget increases aligned with the objectives of the strategic plan, which included 25 requests for full-time positions. These included the conversion of the assistant city manager to assistant city manager, the conversion of a part-time computer technician to full-time interns, a bilingual program coordinator and outreach interns, a management analyst and a license in the Community Development Department, a finance supervisor and a junior accountant in the Finance Department, senior fire department code compliance technician, two police dispatchers, two maintenance workers, full-time park planner , additional recreation supervisor to oversee CivicRec, human resources technician and more. The funds would consist of $1.6 million each from the General Fund and Measure M and $705,000 from other sources.
Among the requests for services and supplies were $174,000 for the third phase of publicity for the city’s biotechnology initiative, $45,000 for maintenance of the Walter Graham Aquatic Center, $90,000 for maintenance of the Play 4 All Park once it opens, $50,000 for road safety graphics and more.
One of the largest requests was for $225,000 from Measure M for a new firefighter apprenticeship pilot program. Fire Chief Kris Concepcion said the department, as well as the profession in general, has faced two major challenges in recent years: a lack of diversity in its ranks and a lack of candidates applying.
“The last two recruitments we’ve had for firefighters, paramedics and firefighters/paramedics have been very unsuccessful with no applicants offering jobs,” he said. “We need a grassroots effort to train these qualified candidates.”
The proposal is for a one-year pilot program to train aspiring firefighters and paramedics and provide a pathway for diverse young adults or people looking for a career change in their 40s.
“We will teach them to become firefighters and then eventually send them to a paramedic school so that at the end of the program they are qualified to be promoted into our firefighter/paramedic and firefighter/paramedic vacancies,” said Concepcion: “It supports our ongoing staffing crisis that we have.”
Concepcion also said it would help with diversity, equity and inclusion.
“By recruiting a more diverse group of people into our ranks, it will help our current group of people to be more inclusive,” he said.
The program would be developed by a fire captain who would also oversee the recruitment and training of 12 to 14 apprentices who would be the fourth person on a fire truck or the third person on an ambulance on calls for first-hand insight into the work being done. . .
The department is asking $291,600 for salaries for part-time paid positions, $34,160 for recruiting fees, $334,800 for the program captain. All of this would result in an annual cost of $852,153.
The other major request is for $244,000 from the General Fund to fund the expansion of the department’s LPR program, where multiple cameras are mounted on vehicles or fixed objects such as lampposts or signs to photograph license plates. which are submitted to a database and can be matched in real time to vehicles of interest, such as stolen or criminal vehicles.
Police Chief Ian Schmutzler said the department had been researching LPRs since 2018. The council approved the program in 2019 and 60 cameras were installed by the end of 2020.
Schmutzler said arrests related to reported vehicle thefts increased by 35% between 2018 and 2021, while the total number of reported vehicle thefts fell by a third.
“We’ve heard about these RAPI programs, and people who steal cars will usually do a little research and find that a city that has an RAPI program they then want to avoid,” he said.
The ministry is requesting $150,000 for 60 new cameras to cover the remaining entry and exit routes and $94,905 for equipment maintenance and support. The department is also looking to establish a “real-time crime center” which would be covered by the $150,000.
“It will basically allow us, in real time, to be able to look at crimes in progress and to use those LPR cameras and readers to be able to get people into custody fairly quickly instead of having to hand them over to investigators. ,” Schmutzler said.
Councilman Nolan Sullivan asked how the apprenticeship program would increase diversity within the fire department. Concepcion said there are barriers for disadvantaged communities to go through fire academies or paramedic schools, namely the high cost.
“The candidates we are looking for, the disadvantaged candidates usually cannot afford to get that education,” he said. “This program recruits at a much lower level, requiring far fewer qualifications. We provide them with these qualifications.
Councilor Greg Ritchie, who is black, said he was excited about the program’s goals.
“‘Diversity, equity, inclusion’ is a buzzword, but it really means something,” he said. “I would love nothing more than to see a fire truck go by and see it reflect the rainbow and all of us.”
Councilman Michael Silva asked Schmutzler how concerning vehicles without license plates were. Schmutzler said that seemed like a concern before California required motorists to have something in the license plate area, including temporary paper plates.
“Vehicles that don’t have anything there, that’s automatic probable cause to contact them personally,” he said.
Vice Mayor Jason Roberts said the council is always ready to support departments with needs.
“If you’re having difficulty with recruiting and retention, bring us in as needed,” he said.
In other business, the council voted 6-0 to authorize the levy and collection of assessments in the Vacaville Downtown Business Improvement District for 2022. Mayor Ron Rowlett was absent.