Richard Beltran for City Council
Beltran for City Council

Richard Beltran for City Council
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Richard Beltran with Bobby Shriver, Candidate for Supervisor at the "Navigating the 21st Century Workforce" presented by Hilda L. Solis at California Polytechnic University, Pomona

MONTCLAIR - Fire Chief Troy Ament has been given his two-week severance notice in a cost-cutting move that may result in the city bringing in more firefighters to the department.

Ament was Montclair's first layoff in the current fiscal year.

In the 2010-11 fiscal year, Montclair officials laid off 10 employees - as a result to the dissolution of its Redevelopment Agency - one of the largest cuts in recent years in the city.

"It's a cost-cutting move but in no way will harm service to Montclair residents," City Manager Edward Starr said of the laying off of Ament.

Starr said the move will save the city nearly half a million dollars a year in wages and benefits.

Ament was given the notice Tuesday.

He will have two weeks from that day to decide if he wants to appeal.

Depending on his seniority, Ament may also be able to "bump" a person out of a position that he has previously held.

"It really is regrettable and not easily made," Starr said. "There are times you have to make difficult decisions."

Ament did not return calls seeking comment.

His removal may also resolve an issue the city has had with the Montclair Firefighters Association.

Earlier this year, members of the union were outrage that one of its paramedic units was parked for most of the 2010-11 fiscal year because of a lack of staffing.

Association members, at that time, voiced their desire to fill seven vacancies in the department rather than filling the paramedic squad through overtime.

With the pending departure of Ament, the city could save nearly $500,000 annually, but it may not all go back into city coffers, Staff said.

City officials will consider the option of hiring more firefighters, he said.

At the start of the fiscal year, city officials introduced a reorganization of personnel with a new three-member executive staff headed by Starr.

The two other positions act as deputies and help oversee departments within the city.

Police Chief Keith Jones was named the director of public safety and is in charge of the police as well as fire departments. His responsibilities include looking at ways to reduce overtime costs and how the department is structured.

"We're looking to be more effective and efficient and still not impact service in any way," Starr said.

In the Police Department, with the chief moving into the executive management position, a captain supervises day-to-day operations, Starr said.

At the Fire Department, a deputy fire chief will assume most of the duties of the fire chief.

Pat McCutheon, who previously served as division chief and has been with the Fire Department for 26 years, will move into that role.

The current structure, with three executive directors, may only be temporary. When the economy recovers, the city may revert back to the traditional organization structure with a chief at each department, Starr said.

But if the changes prove to be successful, Starr said city officials may consider keeping the structure.


The Monte Vista Water District issued a warning this week that staff have received two reports of people posing as water agency employees who tried to get into Montclair homes.

District officials urged residents to be cautious and confirm a workers' identification before letting the person enter a home. Officials also said it is very unusual for district personnel to need to come into a home.

Monte Vista employees carry photo identification badges, wear blue or gray uniforms and drive vehicles with the district's more