So, just how much money does a fire chief make?
As the campaign for and against Measure I to create a community facilities district to augment funding for Big Bear Fire wages on, one issue continues to bubble to the top — labor costs. Using tools such as Transparent California to determine paychecks for the Big Bear fire chief, firefighters and administration, those opposed to the measure claim the funds will be used to line the pockets of what they claim are overpaid staff.
Big Bear Fire Chief Jeff Willis said the comparisons used by those opposing Measure I are deceiving. The comparisons are made between years before fire department staff were working entirely under the Big Bear Fire Authority umbrella. The numbers being shared on social media saying it appears staff received raises to double their wages aren’t correct, Willis said.
The consolidation of Big Bear Lake Fire Protection District and Big Bear City Fire Department staffing under the Big Bear Fire Authority has been an ongoing process. The staff didn’t become Big Bear Fire employees until July 1, 2019. So comparing a 2017 or 2016 salary or wage listed on the Transparent California website with a 2018 figure isn’t accurate, Willis said. Those comparisons won’t be fully accurate until the 2019 numbers can be compared to 2020.
Some staff members were in transition, with part of their salaries coming from their originating agency, either the Big Bear Lake or Big Bear City departments, Willis explained. Adding the two together for a particular year comes closer to reality, but still may not provide a complete salary or wage picture when comparing to the next year, he said.
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