So about a month ago, I wrote a blog on Vallejo, California and its band-aid to get financially by, with outrageous police and fire department salaries. The city was hoping to negotiate and talk both unions into some kind of cut, to allow some restructuring. Well….yesterday….life changed in Vallejo and the council decided time had run out. So bankruptcy is now declared. The largest town in California, to date, has declared itself bankrupt.
There wasn’t a lot of chatter from the police or fire department yet. Both are standing there in shock, I would imagine. Neither side would say what happened in the talks over the past month. The city apparently want one fire station closed as a minimum, and a six-percent pay cut across the board for everyone (top to bottom). I’m guessing the units figured they could be tough on this and just settle for nothing. Neither side could budge and the cut that the city asked for….was probably just enough to get by….not to fix the problem.
So what happens next? The bankruptcy court will approach the city and figure out the bills on the table and the revenue. Then the court will likely appoint someone to oversee this bankruptcy. This guy has the power to basically terminate any agreement, and I’m guessing that the cop agreement will be the first to go. As the announcement occurs of the police terminated…there will be chaos and hostile feelings amongst the police members. The city will turn to the state and request a dozen state policemen to come in for 60 days while they reorganize and reset the pay schedule.
New cops easily hired? Well….not from around that region or the state. Remember, the rest of the state has bloated pay schedules and most guys aren’t going to readily accept a reduced Vallejo pay scale. So the city will advertise outside of the state and suddenly find a hundred resumes on hand….with half of them exiting military policemen from the Army. Within sixty days, they will hire the new force and settle into a better situation.
Now as for the firemen? Well….they are simply watching the police episode unfold and know that the city will come to deal with them as soon as the cop issue is resolved. I’m guessing that the bulk of the firemen will also refuse a drastic pay scale cut, so the city will announce these guys terminated. A make-shift fire department will be put together….likely to be county or volunteer guys. Again, resumes from out of state will surge, and they will have the number they need.
Vallejo will survive, and will be the first major city in California to emerge from the salary episode. Across the state, I’d be guessing at well over 100 communities which have a problem, and they will all visit this idea of bankruptcy as businesses decrease and tax revenue shifts into a lower gear.