Oakdale council will discuss fire merger

10/27/2013 7:18 PM

10/27/2013 7:19 PM

The City Council tonight will discuss the possible financial effects of merging the fire department into an agency that serves much of central and eastern Stanislaus County.

The proposed merger into the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District also could involve the Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District, which serves an area stretching to Valley Home and Knights Ferry.

A report commissioned by Stanislaus Consolidated said the merger could modestly increase annual budget surpluses for the combined service area, boosting the money available for capital improvements and unexpected costs.

The council voted last month to explore the merger, as the Oakdale Rural and Stanislaus Consolidated boards have done. They would need to vote again on applying to the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission, which would make the final decision.

Fire officials in the Northern San Joaquin Valley have talked of combining their forces to better deal with tight funding and demand for fire and emergency medical services. 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.

Earlier this month, the Oakdale council voted to lay off two firefighters at year’s end because of a worsening budget outlook.

Stanislaus Consolidated, created by a merger of smaller agencies in 1995, serves a 217-square-mile area that includes Riverbank, Empire, Waterford, Hickman, La Grange and the Beard Industrial District near southeast Modesto.

Oakdale Rural, established in 1945, covers 239 square miles. The 100-year-old city department covers 5.5 square miles.

Stanislaus Consolidated already manages the two other forces under contract, and the city and Oakdale Rural partner on staffing one station.

The report, from Capitol Public Finance Group in Roseville, said the three agencies proposing to merge had combined surpluses of $193,316 in the 2012-13 fiscal year. That would rise to an estimated $406,622 in 2015-16, when spending would total $13.46 million.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. today at the Gene Bianchi Community Center, 110 S. Second Ave., Oakdale. The meeting was moved from the council chamber on North Second Avenue.

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