Fire district chief retires

Richard Price will remain at the district as a volunteer

The San Ramon Valley Fire District's chief quietly retired on Jan. 11 after six years with the department. At a district board meeting on Jan. 25, Richard Price announced that he would continue his duties as chief but with virtually no pay and no benefits.

According to reports, Price will officially be a volunteer and signed a contract with the district for a monthly salary of $1 for insurance purposes. A firefighter for 32 years (four of which were spent as SRV fire chief), he will receive a pension based on 3 percent of the highest year's salary multiplied by the number of years Price served as a public employee.

"I have a desire to do the job as a volunteer. I started as a volunteer and entered the profession because I loved what firefighters did," Price said. "I never did this job because of the salary, the pension, the benefits."

Price's base salary in 2011 was $208,104, said district Finance Supervisor Gloriann Sasser. He also received $9,398 in administrative leave cash-out, $5,688 in hazardous materials team pay, $16,458 in longevity pay (for public employees in service for more than 30 years), $11,364 in management incentive pay and $9,398 in unused vacation pay for a gross salary of $260,410.

Although Price called his semi-retirement an exercise in putting his money where his mouth is by working without taking a salary, he said some people have had a hard time adjusting to the concept.

"I think people will think I'm less in the game because I'm not taking a salary. We have had volunteers that have been here more than 35 years and I think it's unfair to say that just because someone is a volunteer, they aren't as committed," Price said.

The chief was adamant that he is committed to doing his job at the exact same level. Price said he has no time frame for a full retirement and will continue as a volunteer chief for as long as the district's Board of Directors will allow him.

"When you get to the job that I haveā€¦ you face the criticism of a very high paid public employee. For me, that took away from what I'm doing," he said. "This job is not about the money for me."

While the Contra Costa County Employees Retirement Association did not return calls for comment, Price suspects his pension will be close to what he was earning as fire chief.

A Castro Valley native, 50-year-old Price began volunteering with Hayward's Fairview Fire District at 17 and became a firefighter in San Mateo County the following year. In 2006, after 27 years in San Mateo, he was hired as assistant chief for the SRV Fire District in and became chief in 2008.

Price was attracted to the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District because he wanted to work in his hometown of 20-plus years.


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Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm

So now he gets to move one of his cronies in as his replacement so that person can accumulate a higher salary and thus higher pension benefits. Just in time to escape the wrath of the salary-paying public who somehow "owe" them until the day they die. Just keep stacking them up, one after the other. Someone should do a calculation of how many current and ex fire chiefs we're paying right now (us taxpayers). I'm sure folks would be amazed.
Yet he says he's working for nothing. Seriously, Richard Price, who are you trying to kid???

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Posted by jrm
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Feb 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Honestly, does Mr. Price think we are all that stupid? What a gravy glad the NAPA chief gave him the heads up on how to milk us further...the newspaper article was so illuminating as to his mentor to rip us off further. Retiring at over 200K per year? Umm,..really? Thank You Sandee...we have re-elected fire district board members who have spouses who are firemen, do you all not see this? Please read your newspapers folks. It is appropriate his helmet had a gold tinge to it, we paid for his golden retirement of the likes his taxpayers do not have...ENOUGH ALREADY....this retirement package is NOT available ANYWHERE in the private sector. Keep working for One dollar a year Dick, you are fooling anyone who has a college education and pays taxes...

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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm

the man is 50....and is retiring? We are paying for this? Health care benefits for life?...Excuse me? I have lived here for 30 years, how many houses have burned downed?....these boys now pretty much do EMT work, " dispatched to Kaiser"..."dispatched to San Ramon Regional"...the internet apps have shown me what they really do day to day, and it ain't much....I suggest the public actually monitor and listen in.

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Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Feb 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I agree 100% with comments by JRM, us taxpayers are being ripped off! Huge pension and healthcare for life. Nobody in private sector has anything remotely similar. His smoke screen about doing job for free is insult to anyone with ounce of critical thinking skills. Whoever was suppose represent us taxpayers in negotiating with fire chief and others really dropped the ball.

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Posted by TaxPayingFool
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I agree with all the previous posts. The entire retire at 50 is a rip off for us. When 911 occurred it also provided the limelight for fire departments to scream for more money. 911 was tragic but it wasn't just firefighters that died saving lives. The benefit structure today is a scam in itself. To make it worse, the unfunded debt accumulated is unsustainable and will ultimately fall on our shoulders to pay up. The entire fire system salary and benefit structure needs to be reformed.

Force this by voting no on any new taxes.

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Posted by Diane
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 13, 2012 at 6:26 am

Let's see... that would be over $250,000.00 a year.

A QUARTER-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE, supplied by the taxpaying citizens of the SRV Fire District.

In no way do I wish to discourage brave men and women from entering the dangerous and much-needed profession of firefighting and all that it entails, and I believe that WHILE WORKING they should earn as much as we can afford to pay them, based on merit.

This pension structure, though, has got to go. We can't afford it.

Like this comment
Posted by jrenee
a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2012 at 8:42 am

Thank you one and all for saying EVERYTHING that I was thinking when I read this article in the paper last week. Apparently, Mr. Price and the San Ramon Valley Fire Department really do think we are all stupid. Otherwise, they would never have allowed this ridiculous article to be printed in the first place. It just confirms what we already know. I bet you and the rest of the retired Firefighters, are laughing all the way to the bank.

Like this comment
a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2012 at 9:03 am

Who is to blame for the exorbitant gold-plated presidential (actually probably better than the U.S. president) pension? We the voters! All the info. about Price's predicted pension was known at the last election for SRV Fire District board members and guess what, one of the incumbent directors, I believe she is a firefighter in Marin County but lives in Danville or maybe is a sister-in-law of Price (there was definitely a fire-fighter connection) was re-elected!! VOTERS NEED TO PAY ATTENTION!!

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Posted by dratet
a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

How many fire chiefs have retired from this position we are still paying retirement benefits too? Retiring at 50 is riduculus, expensive and needs to stop.

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Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Feb 14, 2012 at 2:20 pm

One interesting thing about the article is that he was being paid a longevity bonus for having more than 30 years of service. So apparently his years of service for his pension calculation will be greater than 30. And yet the article says that Price had only been with the department for 6 years. So apparently he gets to port his pension accruals from other towns and departments, but then the pension obligation is born locally? How is it that he can change jobs, change departments, change towns, and his pension keeps accruing?

One of the reasons for him retiring now is that he is no doubt worried that his ability to spike/pad his pension will perhaps be taken away (spiking it by getting to apply his payments for many years of unpaid vacation, his other bonuses, etc., to the formula that determines his pension for life). And if his grossly-inflated pension-for-life isn't enough, the crony who takes his place (and therefore gets a better shot at padding HIS (or her?) last-year salary) will no doubt find some way to pay Price some extra non-salary "consulting fees". I'm hoping that Daniel Borenstein (CC Times and affiliated newspapers) covers this.

If only Jerry Brown and the dems in power weren't so in-the-pocket of the public employee unions. The CC county board is at least starting to wake up on this, which is why we will probably see a wave of people retiring before any of the needed reforms get enacted. There will be some major "rooting" going on at the public trough....

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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2012 at 9:03 am

C.R. Mudgeon: his pension will be paid proportionally by the retirement systems he's been a member of during his career.

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Posted by Danville Independent
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Feb 20, 2012 at 10:36 am

Disgusting. He, and his cohorts, should be ashamed at the 'financial raping' of our community!!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Rancho Romero Elementary School

on Jun 5, 2017 at 3:02 am

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