Potential Consolidation of East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Suspended | Company
The board was due to review the final feasibility study on the merger after the full report was released late last week. The main conclusion of the report is that the three firefighting agencies covered by the study – ConFire, ECCFPD and Rodeo-Hercules Fire District (RHFD) – should move forward with consolidation, also known as annexation.
“Based on the analysis, annexation will increase both the effectiveness and efficiency of the service delivery system and the efficiency of administrative functions,” the report says.
The recommendation was supported by the report’s conclusion that the expected revenues for the consolidated district would be sufficient to fund current and expanded services throughout the five-year period identified in the scope of work of the project. In addition, the study found no operational barriers to consolidation.
“I was delighted to read the feasibility study indicating that the combination of agencies will dramatically improve fire and medical services for residents in a short period of time,” said Diane Burgis, District 3 Supervisor of County of Contra Costa. “I support the recommendation and I have no doubts that my colleagues will too. I am disappointed that we were not able to do this yesterday because it has long been my top priority. We have a special meeting scheduled for the 20th and I expect it to pass.
Consolidation with ConFire was seen as a way to improve fire and rescue services in East County. The persistent funding problems created by the idiosyncrasies of Proposition 13 have plagued the ECCFPD since its inception in 2002. Several attempts to improve funding with fiscal measures have failed over the years. A recent effort to gain support for a benefits evaluation was starting to show promise after the district campaigned to raise public awareness of its funding issues. However, the economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have likely erased any hope of adopting a new tax measure in at least the foreseeable future.
The Contra Costa County Supervisory Board (BOS) also serves as the administrative board of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. The matter was due to be considered at 1 p.m., but the BOS discussion regarding the Tassajara Parks residential project pushed back the start time by several hours. At that time, the people who were to present the study to the fire commission were no longer available. ConFire’s board of directors is expected to address the matter at a special meeting scheduled for July 20.
“I was disappointed that the Contra Costa County Fire Council was unable to address the subject of consolidation at Tuesday’s meeting,” said Brian Oftedal, chairman of the ECCFPD board. . “I was hoping to gain a better understanding of their directors’ concerns or outstanding issues before our Fires board meeting.”
If the ConFire Board of Directors approves the resolution calling for consolidation, this will result in a request from the Local Agency Training Commission (LAFCO) to annex the ECCFPD and RHFD service areas to the ConFire service area. The same request will result in the dissolution of ECCFPD and RHFD. It is expected that LAFCO will need approximately six months to complete these actions. If the ConFire trustees don’t approve the resolution to consolidate the districts, the effort will, for all intents and purposes, be dead in the water.
“Last year, with our fire partners East Contra Costa Fire and Rodeo-Hercules Fire, we launched a major feasibility study to determine the potential benefits of annexing one or both of these districts to ConFire.” said ConFire Fire Chief Lewis T. Broschard III. “These possible consolidations have long been considered informally and this formal study, which will be presented to each of the three boards starting this week for review and action, will now provide us with hard data on which to base decisions on service delivery.” fire in many of the county.
The “Fire District Annex Feasibility Study” is over 270 pages long, although its findings and recommendations have been summarized in a smaller 28 page presentation. Other recommendations in the study directly relevant to the ECCFPD included the opening of Station 55 in Oakley and the addition of a fire truck company. These actions would increase the number of businesses in the 249 square mile district from three to five, but still be one less than the six needed according to the agency’s strategic plan.
Last month, ECCFPD officials announced that Station 55, which was completed in 2019 but was never staffed due to budget restrictions, will become operational in 2022, regardless of the outcome of the study. consolidation. The neighborhood does not currently have a fire engine, which is characterized by its large hydraulically operated scale in its inventory.
At the time of going to press, the ECCFPD Fire Board is due to discuss the study at its July 14 board meeting. The staff report submitted by ECCFPD Fire Chief Brian Helmick, who took over as district head in 2018, recommends that the ECCFPD Board of Directors consider a resolution asking LAFCO to initiate a annexation procedure.
AP Triton Consulting, LLC, a Sacramento-based consulting firm specializing in the study of fire and emergency services, was engaged to complete the feasibility study for the consolidation of ConFire and ECCFPD into September 2020. The phase 1 study has been handed over to the boards of directors. of the two agencies the following December. This initial report concluded that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a more comprehensive Phase Two study, and the ECCFPD Board of Directors approved spending of up to $ 30,000 for the effort. The phase two study added RHFD to the mix and projected a five-year forecast of the financial and operational impacts of the potential consolidation of the three districts.
“Overall, I am delighted to see the results of the study, as well as the recommendation to initiate the annexation process in the ConFire auxiliary staff report,” said Oftedal. “The fact that this report suggests that consolidation is possible and that it would improve service levels for our communities is pretty incredible. ConFire is a well respected organization in the California fire department, and I hope our communities would be in good hands.