The straw breaking your city’s back?

Montebello is one step closer to ensuring that its city and fire departments is kept under city control and not turned over to the county, Amanda Baumfeld reports.

The City Council on Wednesday directed staff to draft an ordinance that will require a vote of residents to transfer the city’s police and fire departments to another entity. The ordinance will be added to the city’s municipal code.

The issue raises an interesting question about cities that have their own fire and police services, and at what cost is it to the residents. There are some cities, such as Irwindale, population 1,600, Covina, population 46,830, and Monterey Park, population 62,150, that have its own police agencies.

But at what cost?

There have been stories, such as out of Vallejo, reporting that cities funding the pensions of fire fighters and police officers is going to break their budgets.

“Meanwhile, Vallejo faces soaring payroll costs for its firefighters and police officers, whose pay and benefits make up nearly 80 percent of the city’s general fund budget.” Read more.

But everyone agrees that we need these services. So how do we deal with it? Is turning to the county the answer?

South El Monte, Diamond Bar and Rosemead, for example, all rely on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for their services. Are the cities happy with the services? I’ve heard complaints in the past out of South El Monte. I wonder what the cities pay for county services compared with what cities like Montebello are paying for in-house services, and how the whole pension system works with the county?