Council shoots down fire department consolidation
November 20, 2012
South Lake Tahoe will not consider consolidating its fire department with Lake Valley Fire Protection District following a Tuesday vote by the City Council.
Council members unanimously voted down a request to designate up to $25,000 for a consultant to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of consolidating the fire agencies Tuesday. Language was added to the vote that will end discussion surrounding the concept.
Consolidation has been tossed around for years and formal discussions have taken place since March regarding a possible merger, which was being considered by the city as a cost-saving mechanism.
The council balked at a consolidation proposal by Lake Valley Fire Protection District, which would redirect $6.5 million in annual city property tax to the district while also requiring $787,000 in start-up costs and a more than $500,000 annual capital replacement budget, according to a city staff report.
It is money that the city simply doesn’t have, according to several council members. The city’s current general fund budget for the fire department is $4.8 million.
Councilman Bruce Grego said the consolidation would be unnecessarily wasteful of taxpayers’ dollars, while Mayor Claire Fortier said the consolidation “doesn’t make sense” given the figures.
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Councilman Tom Davis said he didn’t need to see another analysis of the consolidation when the basic numbers show it is infeasible.
City Manager Nancy Kerry told the council the city could take up the idea at a later date if it’s found that it could decrease costs while improving emergency response.
But Davis said he was ready to put the long-discussed idea to rest.
“I want to put it to bed forever,” Davis said. “It’s done.”