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County commissioners receive proposal to consider fire service exchange

Date:

WASHOE COUNTY NEWS RELEASE

Action that would formally forward a proposal to the city of Reno to enter into an agreement to send the closest fire crew calls for assistance was taken by the Washoe County Board of Fire Commissioners today.

During their regularly scheduled meeting, commissioners voted 4 to 1 (Jung dissenting) recommending that the chairman submit a proposal for a cooperative service agreement between the city of Reno, Truckee Meadows Fire Protections District (TMFPD) and the Sierra Fire Protection District (SFPD) for fire services.

The agreement would be for the closest resource to respond first, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries, with exchange of benefits to include assumption by TMFPD and SFPD of several city of Reno labor liabilities and transfer to TMFPD of certain city employees to save jobs and save city of Reno’s taxpayers dollars.

Following two years of discussions in public meetings and independent audits to confirm the finding that the fire service contract with the city of Reno was unsustainable, during the board’s June 28 meeting last summer, the board directed staff to prepare a notice of termination of the interlocal agreement for fire services and consolidation dated July 1, 2004, to the city of Reno and asked staff to return in August with a transition plan.

At the Aug. 9, 2011, meeting the board directed staff to implement a strategic transition plan, which included tasks related to the development of automatic aid accommodating the return of former TMFPD employees and possible accommodation of potential transfers of current Reno Fire Department employees who may wish to apply for positions with the new district.

Washoe County Chairman Bob Larkin says the practice of the closest crew responding is in the best interest of all citizens and dates back to an agreement between the city and the district implemented in 1991. “Over the past several months there has been considerable discussion related to the value of automatic aid with the city of Reno, as well as other topics related to the decision to terminate the interlocal agreement. Today the Board of Fire Commissioners considered a proposal that includes an offer to the city of Reno that would retain the same mutually beneficial approach to providing shared response that has been in place since 1991.”

The fiscal impact of the proposal for a cooperative service agreement between the city of Reno, TMFPD and SFPD for fire services is summarized as follows:

· TMFPD pays for retiree health – Annual savings to Reno and cost to TMFPD: $90,000 annual savings, long-term savings cost $3,650,000

· Sick/annual leave payoffs – Savings to Reno and costs to TMFPD: $375,000

· Use of Station 14 – Savings to Reno; deferral of building $3 million Reno Fire Station

· Equipment/supplies – Value to be determined

· Automatic Aid savings to Reno – TMFPD/SFPD response into Reno, benefits Reno by $833,917 per year more than Reno response into TMFPD/SFPD. Cost to TMFPD to be borne by existing operations budget.

The cooperative service agreement also includes:

· Reno Fire Department (RFD) employees who have applied would be employed with the district

· TMFPD would pay for 100 percent cost for city obligation for retiree health benefits for former TMFPD employees who have retired as of July 1, 2012, and for Reno transfers (non-former TMFPD employees)

· RFD employees (non-former TMFPD employees) transfer to district with all sick leave and vacation hours accrued by RFD

· Lease of Station 14, 12300 Old South Virginia Road, to city of Reno

· Equipment and supplies

· Automatic Aid/Initial Response – That would send TMFPD/SFPD responders in the Reno areas of North Valleys and Boomtown area and Reno responders to TMFPD/SFPD areas in Caughlin Ranch, Hidden Valley and Zolezzi Lane.

A study by Emergency Services Consulting International showed that firefighters from Truckee Meadows and Sierra Fire stations responded to 1,358 incidents in the city of Reno over a 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, 2010. Crews from Reno stations responded to calls into Truckee Meadows and Sierra Fire Protection Districts 896 times over the same period, with a per call value of $1,074,623 million more for Reno. Property tax revenues in the shared services areas show $204,706 more for TMFPD and SFPD, so the net benefit to Reno taxpayers would be $833,917 and all service areas would be covered with an eight-minute response.

Larkin concluded by saying, “The offer for automatic aid to the city of Reno is being made in the best interest of service to the citizens and those Reno employees who are eligible for jobs with the new fire district.”

The board also directed staff to add a reversionary clause to the offer which would return the services to a status quo in the event of a breach of the agreement.

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