Fountain Valley appears to be close to getting its new fire chief, and the controversial proposal to provide that new chief with a higher pension rate will now likely not be necessary, City Manager Ray Kromer said Thursday.
Kromer said the city's preferred candidate, whose name hasn't yet been released, is undergoing a background check and is in the final stages of the hiring process. But, Kromer said, the city hit a snag with California Public Employees Retirement System, which did not want to accept the city's new rate of 2 percent at 50 years of age. In an attempt to get around that issue and speed up the hiring process, the city was willing to revert to its old rate of 3 percent.
"I was trying to bring this person on faster than what the state pension board was moving," Kromer said. "What they were doing was taking us round and round; they've been screwing around with us for four months...We've been fooling around with CalPERS since October, and it seemed like there was no end in sight. I haven't had a fire chief since May."
A decision on the proposed pension rate for the city's new fire chief was postponed Tuesday night by the city council. Local resident Jeannie Gallindo spoke out against the proposal during the council meeting, and Roy Reynolds wrote about it in a Fountain Valley Patch . Kromer said the city had a breakthrough Wednesday with CalPERS, and that an agreement should be reached by early next week.
"Right now, it looks like this is gonna click," Kromer said. "I was just trying to get the process moving, and just taking [the higher pension rate] as an option. But if we ever made headway with CalPERS, then we could go back. Now it looks like we won't need that option."