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Alternative fire plan receives approval from county commissioners

By ThisIsReno

WASHOE COUNTY NEWS RELEASE

An alternative plan was presented today to show how the Sierra Fire Protection District and Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District will provide coverage to all areas of the two fire districts if the city of Reno does not approve the proposal for a mutually beneficial automatic aid agreement that was sent to the city earlier this month.

The Washoe County Board of Commissioners, acting as the Board of Fire Commissioners, today voted four to one (Jung dissenting) to direct staff to proceed with the implementation of ‘Plan B,’ which includes an alternative for a consolidated TMFPD-SFPD fire services operation to staff and serve all areas within the districts’ boundaries. The approval of ‘Plan B’ won’t go into effect until April 3, 2012, in order for the city of Reno to respond to the automatic aid agreement.

Earlier this month the board approved a plan to offer closest resource first (known as automatic aid) between the city of Reno and the fire districts. If city of Reno does not accept the board offer for automatic aid before April 3, 2012, then staff recommended the board directed staff to proceed with the implementation of Plan B since it constitutes the highest level of service at the lowest sustainable cost to the taxpayers. Plan B does offer continued automatic aid from the fire districts to the city of Reno even if the city decides to not reciprocate.

Chairman Bob Larkin commented that “the responsible action for the Board of Fire Commissioners to do is to prepare a plan for the fire district to be ready to serve July 1, 2012. We would prefer not to have to prepare a ‘Plan B’; however, if our preferred plan for a mutually beneficial and cost-effective automatic aid agreement is not acceptable, this option is the most fiscally sustainable alternative. We remain committed to a sustainable regional fire service for the long-term benefit of the entire region.”

Background
Over the past few months, staff has worked on various service and funding alternatives within the new TMPD/SFPD consolidated fire district boundaries for the board’s consideration including the following:

  • Reno/731 Plan for Fire Service.
  • Payment to the city of Reno for automatic aid at their requested amount of $2,462,814.90.
  • The TMFPD/SFPD Plan A: Board approved TMFPD/SFPD staffing and service plan which included closest resource first automatic aid to and from the city of Reno.

TMFPD/SFPD Plan B: Alternative TMFPD/SFPD for self-sufficient staffing and service plan which does not include closest resource first automatic aid from the city of Reno. The Plan B recommendations include taking action related to TMFPD and SFPD consolidated fire district service levels and revenue alternatives to staff and serve all areas within the consolidated district boundaries which may include a fire district property tax rate increase, but with declining assessed values, actual tax bills for district taxpayers are still forecast to decline. The board will consider any possible tax rate increases in future public meetings, with final budget adoption on May 21, 2012.

Fiscal impact
A summary of each service and funding alternative is as follows:

Alternative Annual Operating Surplus (Deficit) Tax Rate Increase Required OR TM/SF Fire Station Closures
Reno/731 Plan for Fire Service Deficit- Between $2.4 million to $3.4 million per year TM-Increase 15.14 cents to 62.37
SF-Increase 10.37 cents to 62.37
Closure of 2 fire stations by FY 13-14 and 1 more fire station by FY 14-15
Reno Charge for Automatic Aid Deficit-Between $1.9 to $2.39 million per year TM-Increase 11.48 cents to 58.61
SF-Increase 6.61 to 58.61 cents
Closure of 2 fire stations by FY 13-14
TM/SF Plan A General Break-Even: $563,801 Surplus to $279,402 Deficit None No fire station closures
TM/SF Plan B General Break-Even: $761,031 Surplus to $312,493 Deficit TM-Increase 6.87 cents to 54 cents
SF-Increase 2 Cents to 54 cents
No fire station closures

Chairman Larkin concluded, “The days of continuing to overspend available budgets must be brought to an end. Fiscal discipline must be put in place, or residents will increasingly see browned out or closed fire stations. Government and public safety unions must do their part to prevent that, painful as those decisions may be.”

There is a joint meeting set between the city of Reno, city of Sparks, Washoe County and the Washoe County School District on April 2 at 8:30 a.m. at the Board of County Commissioners Chambers. The interlocal agreement for fire services and regionalization of fire services are on the agenda as items to be discussed.

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