City Council to consider fire merger in Oakdale

jholland@modbee.comSeptember 1, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textJohn Holland
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Agriculture, Turlock; local news editor on Sundays
    Bio: John Holland has been a reporter at The Bee for 12 years. He has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and previously worked at the Union Democrat in Sonora and the Visalia Times-Delta.
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— The City Council on Tuesday night will discuss merging the city fire department with a pair of fire districts to save money.

The council also will consider a two-year ban on alcohol in most city parks, except for people who get a special permit.

The fire merger idea emerged as Oakdale, like many local governments, struggles with public service demands and weak tax income.

The proposal is to merge with the Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District, which already partners with the city to staff one station, and the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, which manages the city department and Oakdale Rural under contract.

"The cost of providing community safety services has remained constant while the available revenue to support the desired level of service has been significantly reduced due to the economic downturn," said Brian Kelly, interim chief of the city department, in a memo to the council.

The proposal would need approval from the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission, which rules on the boundaries and functions of local entities. A council vote Tuesday would launch an application to LAFCo but not commit the city to the merger.

Stanislaus Consolidated, which covers much of central and eastern Stanislaus County, is itself the product of a 1995 merger of three smaller districts and the county fire department. In 2010, the Modesto Regional Fire Authority was created by a merger of the Modesto and Salida agencies and the county fire warden's office.

The alcohol ban would apply to all parks except for Kerr Park and end after two years, when the council would review whether it curbed problems at these sites. Park users could drink in parks with the ban if they got permits from the police department.

The council usually meets on Mondays but moved to Tuesday because of Labor Day.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the council chamber, 277 N. Second Ave., Oakdale.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.

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