The Kern County Board of Supervisors took a series of steps Tuesday to address a looming budget crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
One of those steps included passing a $3 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2020-21, but the most prominent may have been the reduction of firefighter overtime benefits that the County Administrative Office said exceeds federal labor standards.
The reduction came as part of a contract supervisors voted to impose on the local firefighters’ union after impasse negotiations between the two parties failed. County officials said the move was necessary to help eliminate a structural deficit within the Fire Fund that’s grown over the years to $9 million.
The issue has been a sore spot for many years, with the county paying overtime for sick leave and vacation, beyond standards set by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the new deal, firefighters would only receive overtime if they worked beyond a 40-hour workweek.