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Washoe County Fire Services final budget gets approval



After more than two years of financial uncertainty due to the Great Recession, loss of $7 million in revenues and the dire prospect of Truckee Meadows and Sierra Fire Protection Districts’ fire station closures, the new TMFPD/SFPD Consolidated Fire District is now financially sustainable. Earlier today the Washoe County Commissioners, acting as the Board of Fire Commissioners for the Districts, approved the final consolidated Fire Districts’ budget.

Fire Chief Charles A. Moore said during his report this morning in the Commission Chambers, “This financial sustainability is due to the strong, conservative financial leadership of the District’s Board of Fire Commissioners with the tremendous assistance from our Firefighters’ Union IAFF Local 3895 and Chief Officers Association. These employees stepped forward and saved the Consolidated Fire District $2.5 million per year due to negotiating minimum 3 person engine companies and salary levels consistent with regional parity. These employees put public safety above themselves and were equally dedicated to insuring fire stations were kept open as was the Board of Fire Commissioners.” The TMFPD/SFPD Consolidated Fire District budget is $21,250,141 and includes 24 hour, seven days per week staffing for 11 career fire stations, and 13 volunteer fire stations servicing all areas of the Fire District including Caughlin Ranch, Windy Hill, Verdi and Hidden Valley. The budget was based on the Boards of Fire Commissioners’ March 27, 2012 decision to implement Plan B for a TMFPD/SFPD consolidated Fire District.

The decision established a tax rate of 54 cents per $100 of assessed value for both the fire districts. This is an increase of approximately 2 percent or 6.87 cents in the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District tax rate or $24 per year increase in the average property tax bill for fire service. The tax rate for SFPD changed from 52 cents to 54 cents per $100 of assessed value for a less than 1% increase in the average property tax bill. Due to the decline in the assessed valuation, however, it is anticipated the average tax bill will still experience a decrease even with the increase in the districts’ tax rates.

The Fire Services budget includes more funding for volunteer programs including; $480,000 for a Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) Paging System, VFD Capital Improvement Program and the VFD Palomino Valley Fire Protection Well for water service for fires. It also includes seed money to establish a volunteer residence program for the first time in Washoe County.

Moore said, “I am confident that as of July 1, 2012, there will be a promising new day for the TMFPD and SFPD. For more than 20 years, State and local governments in Northern Nevada have tried to consolidate the two fire districts without success. Now, the Board of Fire Commissioners has set us on a course to consolidate fire service in the unincorporated area of Truckee Meadows to the betterment of our citizens we protect.”

The budget includes paying for all the District’s workers compensation and retiree health liabilities, wildland fire liabilities and funding for necessary capital improvement programs, fuels management programs and operational contingencies. The TMFPD/SFPD Consolidated Fire District is one of the largest firefighting forces in Nevada excluding Clark County.

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