Candidates oppose fire agency merger
Ryan Summerlin October 11, 2012
Merging South Lake Tahoe Fire Department with Lake Valley Fire Protection District got an icy reception from candidates for two South Lake Tahoe City Council seats Wednesday night.
Discussion of consolidating South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and Lake Valley Fire Protection agency re-emerged in March as a possible cost-saving mechanism for the city and El Dorado County.
Both agencies are looking at the possibility.
Where the candidates stood on the idea of consolidation was asked by one of about 50 people who attended a candidates forum hosted by the Tahoe Daily Tribune and Tahoe Chamber at the South Tahoe High School Student Union Wednesday night.
The question of consolidation came following a series of queries from moderators B Gorman, CEO and president of the chamber, and Tim Parsons, editor of Lake Tahoe Action, on topics including council members’ interactions with city staff, improving the economy and funding infrastructure improvements.
Candidate and current City Councilman Hal Cole said he did not see the need for urgency in consolidating, saying he thought local emergency services work very well together.
Candidate Austin Sass said he had concerns about the cost of consolidation for the county, as well as differences in the culture and benefits between the two fire protection agencies.
Candidate JoAnn Conner also expressed concerns about differences in the benefit packages offered to employees of the fire agencies as a possible stumbling block, saying consolidation is “not an easy solution.”
“It’s a great idea in theory,” Conner said. “I think there are a lot of obstacles to overcome.”
Candidate Clinton Schue was the only candidate who did not attend the forum, saying he was on vacation from Oct. 1 through 12.
Winners of the two City Council seats will be determined during the Nov. 6 election.