BY RIC McGINNIS
The Oakdale City Council voted last week to discontinue negotiations with the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District and prepared to take back operation of the fire department in the city.
The vote came in a special meeting on Wednesday, May 8, just one day before the scheduled SCFPD board meeting.
In a report to the council, the 2+2 Fire Services Committee, made up of representatives of the city and the Rural Fire District board, suggested three options for council action.
The committee suggested either creating a joint rural/city fire department, or contracting for fire services with other agencies or maintaining a partnership with SCFPD.
“After this extensive review, the 2+2 Fire Services Committee believes that the best option at this time for the residents and businesses of the City of Oakdale, OFPD and SCFPD is to extend the agreement for a year with the goal of developing a new long-term agreement,” the reports says.
“An extension would allow for additional dialogue among the board members and staff members of all three agencies with the goal of fine tuning an agreement that has already provided significant benefits to the participating agencies,” it continues.
Conversely, the SCFPD board has sought to extend the contract for another five years.
In a letter to the fire board, Oakdale Mayor JR McCarty wrote that the city council, “has determined that an extension of the agreement to provide fire services for our agencies with the district is no longer attainable. Therefore, we will not continue to pursue the request for a contract extension.”
It continues, “Our desire was to extend the current contract 'as-is' for one year, giving ample time to work through revisions with all stakeholders at the table and involved in the process. Negotiation a contract revision with less than 60 days to reach an agreement puts our community at risk of losing fire protection services on July 1, 2019.”
The letter requests that the SCFPD work with the city to make any necessary transfer of firefighters “as seamless as possible.”
The report to the council also indicated that the fire district sought to make at least three major changes to language in the contract. The council seemed to worry that those negotiations could not be completed by the end of June.
The Mayor's letter to the fire district was e-mailed to its board on Thursday, just before the regular meeting at which the extension was to be discussed.