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Independent Voice

Council Approves New Fire Chief; Contracts PR Services on Water Rate Ballot Item

Jul 17, 2020 12:00AM ● By By Debra Dingman

New Dixon Fire Chief Todd McNeal Courtesy. Dixon Fire Department

DIXON, CA (MPG) - Since February, a long interviewing process involving a dozen candidates has culminated in the hiring of a new Dixon Fire Chief. Todd McNeal will start Monday after serving the Twain Harte Community Services District since 2011 and the Strawberry Fire District since 2014.

It is important to note that the Dixon Fire District stems from North Vacaville to Putah Creek and down toward Rio Vista. Our district is the largest in Solano County and encompasses approximately 300 square miles.

McNeal has a total of 28 years’ experience, education, and specialized training. He has numerous certificates and is expected to start July 20.

The approved three-year contract gives him a base salary of $185,000 for the first year, a five percent pay increase the second year, and a three percent increase the third year. There were additional perks such as three percent match of his salary every month into a deferred compensation retirement account.

To put that salary in perspective, at the end of his contract, he will be making as much as the Governor of California who is the highest paid Governor in the United States.

"The pay-scales are right in line with other areas around Solano County," said Mayor Bogue. Each of the Councilmen welcomed the new Chief who could not make the meeting in person due to a fire training although he did participate via Zoom.

"It's my sincerest honor to be extended this opportunity," he said. "It is a privilege to join the team at the City of Dixon and continue the projects, the leadership and the professionalism that's been set in play be predecessors, especially Chief [Greg] Lewis," he said. He thanked the Council and said he looked forward to working with them.

On other items, the Council was divided over a contract for professional PR services related to the Water Rate measure on the November 3, 2020 ballot. There were several comments from Michael Ceremello, a member of the Central Solano Taxpayers Association and an email read from the Solano County Taxpayers Association stating their concern that public funds are not to be used to persuade voters. It was heard about 7:38 pm and there were 38 participants on the Zoom site when caller Dorothy Kroll admonished the Mayor and Council.

"It astounds me you'd spend another $40,000 of taxpayer's dollars on this," she said. "A year and a half ago you failed miserably by not answering questions from SCTA and from citizens who came to council meetings. It is clear you are not listening to your citizens."

City Engineer Joe Leach attempted to explain that the purpose was to inform the public on a very complicated issue. The motion passed 4-1 with Councilman Devon Minnema dissenting.

Soon after that a presentation was heard regarding the Water Fund Financial Projections (only water infrastructure) by City of Dixon Finance Director Kate Zawadzki about the capital improvement items that would be cut. If the water rate rollback passes, she ensured the Council that "you won't have any money to make any repairs or purchase any equipment. Anything over $125,000 is a capital expenditure item." The council meeting adjourned at 9:39 pm.

Further discussion involved reducing the water budget by $1.5 million if the measure passes. Associate Civil Engineer Deborah Barr said the wells had to be a "top priority." This was just a discussion item and no vote was necessary.

There was also an increase in rates for the Dixon Readi-Ride effective January 1, 2021. Coupon books of 20 passes will go from $45 to $50.