Jim Wyatt named acting fire chief

City reaches agreement with firefighter union

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The City of Gilroy appointed Jim Wyatt as acting fire chief Sept. 11 as its nearly two-year search for a permanent hire continues.

Wyatt replaces interim chief Mark Bisbee, who was appointed in January. Bisbee was limited to 960 hours of work as he is retired and a CalPERS beneficiary. 

Gilroy has been looking to fill the role since December 2018 after the retirement of Alan Anderson.

Wyatt, who has lived in Gilroy for 34 years, is a 35-year veteran of the fire service. He has worked for the Gilroy Fire Department for more than seven years, most recently at the rank of division chief, and has taught emergency medicine for 38 years to nearly 10,000 aspiring EMTs and paramedics, according to city officials.

In recent months, Wyatt has been managing the city’s emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic as the emergency operations manager.

The city also reached a concessions agreement with the firefighters’ union to close the gap on its budget shortfall.

Per the agreement with IAFF Local 2805, salary increases will be suspended for the next two years, while the city will not raise its contribution to medical and dental benefits, among other terms.

According to Human Resources Director LeeAnn McPhillips, the concessions are expected to save the city $960,000 annually.

With the Covid-19 health emergency slashing a significant portion of the city’s revenue streams, mainly sales tax and transient occupancy tax, Gilroy is faced with an $8 million shortfall over the next two years, according to Interim City Administrator Jimmy Forbis.

Half of that shortfall was addressed with the first phase of the city’s financial recovery plan, which cut 33 full-time positions—12 of which were vacant—as well as furloughing most part-time staff.

The rest was expected to be achieved through concessions with labor groups, primarily through pay reductions and eliminating raises.

The city was able to reach agreements with other groups, including the police and management associations, which eliminated raises and added furlough days, among other concessions.

However, it could not reach an agreement with the labor group American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 101, and 12 positions, two of which were vacant, were cut at the end of August.

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