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Chester Progressive
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March 12, 2014     Chester Progressive
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March 12, 2014
 

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Chester Progressive, Westwood PinePress Wednesday, March 12, 2014 5A Measure A is good investment for residents The passage of Measure A is critical to the lifeblood of our community. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical of Measure A when I first heard about it, especially after talking with many of my friends and neighbors here in the country club. It wasn't until I did some in-depth research of my own, though, that I became convinced that Measure A is not only a good deal, but significantly important to our welLbeing. For starters, let me introduce myself. My name is Phil Kleinheinz and my wife and I have been members of the Lake ALmanor Country Club since 1993. Our home is at 1312 Peninsula Drive and we have always thought of Lake A/manor as a little slice of heaven. Since our retirement in 2012, we have been able to spend a lot more time here at the lake, Prior to 2012, I was the fire chief for the San Francisco Bay Area city of Santa Clara, which has a medium to large, full-service fire department. I had complete authority and responsibility for I0 fire stations, 200 personnel and a $35,000,000 annual budget. I served as a chief officer for more than 20 years and, as a result, consider myself well-informed on matters related to fire administration. It is this background that came in handy when taking an objective look at Measure A. I would like to share some of the more important data that I discovered when reviewing the Peninsula Fire Protection District albng with its standards of coverage, policies 'and budgetary procedures. I was surprised to learn that approximately two-thirds of the revenue used to support the district comes from an initiative that has a sunset clause. This means that the majority of revenue is unstable at best. Funding public safety in this manner is highly unusual in the state of California. Generally, voter initiatives are used to modify (usually increase) a funding source rather'than to reapprove it every few years. Although this method of funding does put the community completely in charge, it also puts the entire public safety organization at risk. I guess you could say that our fire department is continuously temporarily funded. It would be my recommendation that our community modify this method of funding to something more stable in the future. In doing my research, I reviewed this year's budget along with the budgets from the previous three years. I was pleasantly surprised at what I learned. I used industry standards to benchmark our f]re department against similar agencies in California. For instance, I looked at total cost per citizen (even though our population does vary by PUBLIC NOTICE Collins Pine permit hearing PUBLIC NOTICE TO RESIDENTS OF CHESTER, CA The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District is in the process of renewing the Title V Operating Permit for the Collins Pine Company located at 500 Main St. (formerly 13 Collins Drive), Chester, CA., 96020. Per 40 CFR Part 70.7(h), the public shall be pro- vided with an opportunity to comment on this permit renewal at least 30 days before the public hearing for the permit renewal. This permit renewal is for the wood-fired boiler and planing mill and their associated air pol- lution control equipment. There will be no increase in emissions as a result of this per- mit renewal. WHERE I STAND PHIL KLEINHEINZ RETIRED FIRE CHIEF "CITY'OF SANTA CLARA & LAKE ALMANOR RESIDENT season), I compared budget per square mile protected and I also looked at total cost per emergency call These are all methods that every fire chief uses when reporting to their councils, board of directors, city and county managers, dtc. After completing my research, I was convinced that Chief Pin| (fire chief for the Peninsula Fire Protection District) runs a very tight ship. I looked at number of employees, salaries, staffing policies, scope of practice and even employee longevity and hiring procedures. I reviewed not only these areas but also many others and I must admit, there was not a single red flag. As a matter of fact, I was surprised at the high level of service that we receive for the amount m6ney that we pay. We are definitely getting our money's worth. I spent some time talking to neighbors and friends in order to get a sense of the emotion that is surrounding Measure A. I would like to share with you some of what I heard. Most of those with whom I spoke thought that this initiative increased the $197 annual fire service fee by an additional $295. After careful review of the initiative, I learned that the $197 fee goes away June 30 of this year. We are voting to either completely eliminate the fee (two-thirds of the district's budget) with a "No" vote or reinstate the fee at a total cost of $289 with a "Yes" vote. There is a variety of opinion among some of my friends and neighbors that this fee should not be increased. I, too, am generally not in favor of increasing fees and taxes in this time of run-away government spending. However, when I reviewed the budget and saw the impact of the property reassessment and the resulting decrease in the: county subsidy to our fire district, it became clear that our fire department could not continue to provide a reasonable level of fire and life safety services to the Peninsula unless we increased revenue some other way. Now, to be honest with you, SII00I00I00& UIPlCW00 INUPtA$ P37-74(Sg) ,HLaln Sit.o Susanvlile iilllliniui All films subject to change/ I * Designates PASSES NOT ACCEPTED Saturday & Sunday Discount Matinees : I Now Playing I Sierra Theatre: i Both in 2D and 3D i n,300: RISE OF AN I EMPIRE (R) I I'MR. PEABODY AND I i SHERMAN (PG) I Uptown Cinemas: : NON-STOP (PC-1 3) | SON OF GOD (PC-13) THE LEGO MOVIE (PC) | |THE MONUMENTS MEN (PG-13) n - i |T entatively starts Friday 3/14 | Uptown Cinemas: |NEED FOR SPEED (PG-13) n | Please call the recording i | 257-SHOW or go to our 11 As of March14, 2014, the public may review I websiteforupdatedinfo: 11 all documents relevant to this renewal by going to i www, sierratheatreand I www.myaJrdistrict.com/CollinsPineRenewal uptowncinemas.com " or by contacting the Northern Sierra Air I movielover 2010@live.corn | Quality Management District either by phone (530-274-9360, ask for Joe) or email (joe@myairdistrict.com) or by mail at: NSAQMD, POB 2509, Grass Valley, CA 95945. Comments should be submitted in writing, either by email or to POB 2509 or in person on the day of the public hearing. No comments will be accepted after the close of the public hearing. Date and Time of Public Hearing: April 16, 2014 beginning at 11:30 AM and concluding at1 PM. Location of Public Hearing: Almanor Recreation Center, 450 Meadow Brook Loop, Chester, CA (1 block west of Main St. behind the Knot Bumper restaurant) Published CP March 12, 2014[ Theatre Gift Certificates : available at Margie's Book Nook ! Payable in cash please _ www.margiesbooknook.net I me i i m i i i i n BFI:00,EAKi NG 00,NEWS P ...and so much more is just ;! 1 CLICK AWAY fire departments around the state have had to make tough choices these past few years because, truth be told, everyone is dealing with reduced revenues. And so I looked at our fire district and once again was pleasantly surprised at the measures that have been taken to cut back expenditures. These measures include hiring freezes, reduced staffing and an emphasis on utilization of low-cost part-time help. By low cost, ! mean barely over minimum wage. I will tell you that hiring fully credentialed paramedics at about $10 per hour is unheard of, but it is one of the measures that Chief Pin| has successfully implemented to reduce costs. Speaking of costs, I learned that one of the elephants in the room is a board policy that allows the fire chief, who lives in Quincy, to use a district vehicle for commuting to and from the Peninsula. Although I understand why this could be a cause for concern to some, I was surprised at the level of emotion that surrounded this policy. I would never suggest to anyone that his or her opinion is wrong but I will submit for your consideration that this policy is standard within nearly every fire department, regardless of size, within California. As a matter of fact, I have never heard of a fire chief that did not have this same provision within his or her contract. I will say that most agencies do have a residency requirement built into this particular provision and, generally speaking, the standard for nearly every fire agency does require the fire chief to live within the boundaries of the county. Just for clarification, Chief Pin| does live within Plumas County. The last item that seems to be an emotional issue surrounding Measure A is the state-imposed fire fee that took effect last year. I was at the front of the line when,it.came , i I:;'iir ! ,, f to citizens who opposed the fee for Peninsula residents. Unfortunately, that fee was imposed by a group of Sacramento politicians who had the authority to implement a fee (not a tax) regardless of the people's will. I can tell you unequivocally that the state if|re fee goes entirely to California for fighting wildland fires and not one penny is used to supplement our fire district. The difference between the fire fee and Measure A is that politicians are in charge of the fire fee and we are in charge of Measure A. The two revenue funds are completely separate and, thus, we make the decision on our own f]re district; and the vote of the people will prevail. For what it's worth, I think that Measure A is a good deal for all of us. After a careful look, I became convinced that our fire chief and our fire board do an excellent job at protecting our money. Like so many other police and f']re departments throughout the state, it has learned to do more with less and, most importantly, it has kept the safety of our lives and property as its highest priority. Compared to so many other fire and EMS agencies, the Peninsula Fire Protection District runs as efficiently as any and more efficiently than most. For less than a dollar a day from each of us, they do amazing work. One final point: I also learned that the $197 fee that we currently pay to maintain our fire district has not increased in the past seven years. This is noteworthy given the increased cost of everything from fire engines to EMS supplies. I think this is a testament to the work that our fire chief and the fire board have done to guard our hard-earned money. If you would like any information at all regarding my research into Measure A and the Peninsula Fire Protection District, please feel free to call me at 209-918-4944. Hospital partnership yields positive results I I I I I I Samantha P. Hawthorne Staff Writer shawthorne@plumasnews.com The partnership between Seneca Healthcare District and Human Resources Group is finally beginning to yield positive results for the hospital district. In November, HRG made several commitments to Seneca, including lowering the district's accounts receivable days, increasing cash collections and clearing up bad debt. During Seneca's March 1 board meeting, HRG staff presented the status of their efforts. Revenue cycle director Jackie Henderson reported that cash collections are strong, and as of Feb. 27 they have increased from 87 percent in November to 113 percent. She explained everything over 100 percent indicates delinquent accounts are being cleaned up. Payment plan accounts over 120 days went down from $220,000 in November to $20,000 in January. Prior to HRG making Seneca a priority, AR days were averaging in the mid-80s. As part of its commitment, HRG staff made a goal to bring that number down to 60 by Feb. 15. Although Seneca financials reflected 72 AR days in February, HRG reported bringing it down to 53. Henderson explained the additional 19 days reflect $1.2 million in aged self-pay accounts not under a payment plan. HRG Executive Director Jason Coffin said they have made extensive attempts to set up payment arrangements for those accounts but were unsuccessful. "We feel wd have done everything we can do to lower the AR days," he said. He added HRG considers the accounts bad debt. He said once that's done, days in AR will decrease by 19 days. Seneca board president Dana Seandel said, "I was critical (of HRG) when (AR days) were in the 80s. This is much better and I hope things continue to go down. It looks like you have worked pretty hard at this." Henderson said, "We feel that HRG has met its goals." She said going forward the company will be focusing on moving aged self-pay accounts to bad debt; f'malizing and instituting a new self-pay policy plan -- which the board approved during the meeting; starting a prompt pay program and discount campaign; decreasing discharged not rmal billed (DNFB) days; Medi-Cal billing issues; and Medicare logins. Board treasurer Bill Howe said, "From my perspective there has been a significant improvement. It is obvious to me that you are doing things behind the scenes to make things work and we are grateful for that. I know there was some doubt from the board towards the promises you (HRG) made -- some promises sounded unrealistic-- but obviously you have accomplished them." The remaining board members cOncurred and all said they appreciate the efforts made by HRG. Seneca pays its debts Seneca received part of its meaningful use reimbursement from Medicare, which financial director Carlene Slusher used to pay down all its vendor debts. She said all vendor accounts are now current and she will work toward keeping vendors paid within 30- 60 days going forward: Acknowledging the achievement, Howe said, "This will be the first time in over 11 years that accounts payable uncollectable and is waiting for . doesnot have debts over 100 Seneca to designate them as 'days." 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