EMS v. Town of Bernalillo
Bernalillo emergency responders have sued the town alleging they are being denied proper overtime pay.
The suit filed by attorney E. Justin Pennington claims the town is using a law governing firefighters to limit overtime pay to ambulance and medical personnel. Under that exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act, firefighters only earn overtime after they work fifty-six hours in a week.
Emergency medical-services personnel contacted by the Signpost declined to comment on the suit, which also alleges retaliation against employees who complained about pay practices. Two of the town’s EMS staff work full time, with the remainder working part time.
The town has yet to file its response to the suit, but town administrator Lester Swindle said his staff is compiling two years of payroll records at the request of its attorneys. The exemption in the law is designed for emergency personnel on duty for twenty-four hours at a time followed by twenty-four hours off, he explained.
“Our position is we are doing things right,” Swindle said. The issue is bigger than Bernalillo, he added, because most EMS systems in the state operate the same way.
How should Bernalillo PD grant be allocated?
There will be a public hearing on December 3 at 6:00 p.m. at Bernalillo City Hall to discuss the allocation of the FY 2003 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant that the Bernalillo Police Department has received. Suggestions from the public on how the police department should allocate the funds will be heard.
For further information, contact officer Darrell Sanchez at 867-2304.
Placitas brigade working hard
Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade
This past month has been very busy at the brigade. Several members have been attending training and receiving new certification levels. Three members have recently finished their certification as firefighter I from the state fire academy. The course lasted more than a hundred hours and covered all aspects of firefighting tactics.
The new firefighters in the department are Drew Owens, Neva Denney, and Eric Perez. Congratulations to all three for their efforts.
We also just finished our fall recruit class in which we gained five new members. The students were taken through training in fire-ground basics and operations as well as the basics of helping out on a rescue scene.
Assistant chief Sal Gullo and Humberto Macias just took their state exam for EMT-Basic. They worked through a 120-hour course, which included all aspects of emergency medicine.
All of this training was in addition to the regular monthly training sessions, calls for service, and the piñon burn when we helped the fire marshal’s office with fire suppression. These people are your neighbors who volunteer their time to help their community.
We have also been busy planning the new station that will be built in the Sundance Mesa subdivision in the upcoming year. We have been working closely with the fire marshal’s office and the developer in order to design a practical and pleasant building. The addition of station three will, hopefully, help with the insurance rates for the residents in that area.
Next year will be very eventful for the brigade, as we will be asking voters to approve a new sales tax to fund fire and emergency medical response in Sandoval County. In the coming months, we will be getting information out to the community about the importance of this election.
Until then, let’s be careful out there.
County wish list
The Sandoval County wish list for state funding and policy changes includes money to start composting at the county landfill.
“I was fascinated when they said that due to technology we may never need another landfill,” commission chairman Jack Thomas said. Commissioners also approved contract negotiations for designing the project to convert green waste and wastewater into fertilizer and soil enhancers.
The county already has about $500,000 for the pilot project and ranked its request for $300,000 in state funds as the county’s second priority for the legislative session convening in January. First on the list is $200,000 for security and exterior lighting at the soon to be built judicial complex.
Other requests in order of priority include: match money for a federal grant to renovate the El Zócalo compound, additional security and services in the detention center expansion, surfacing of Pipeline Road and roads in the La Madera and Regina areas, five fifty-thousand-gallon water tanks in the Jemez Mountains for domestic use and fire fighting, improvements to four Rio Rancho parks, extension of the Bernalillo sewer system, and upgrades of the Las Acequias de Placitas water system.
Commissioners also approved eight policy priorities including support for the Casa San Ysidro museum in Corrales, allowing recounts in referendums, bond issues, and tax elections and allowing all counties to join McKinley county in imposing a liquor excise tax of up to 10 percent.