In a move to create more efficient and less costly protection for residents and businesses in Oakdale, the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District approved a plan on Thursday, Aug. 8 to study possible annexation of the city’s fire department.
The plan also includes annexing the Oakdale Rural Fire Department.
Many fire departments across the state are turning to a variety of joint ventures to provide the level of service their communities need while conserving scarce resources. They are applying a wide variety of approaches, ranging from the informal sharing of individual personnel or equipment to the formal consolidation of departments across jurisdictional lines.
“This doesn’t commit any of the communities to any of it (annexation),” said Stanislaus Consolidated Interim Fire Chief Brian Kelly. “It’s only a study.”
Under the proposal that was passed by the district board, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District will pay no more than $25,000 to Capitol Public Finance Group of Sacramento to study the financial obligations, personnel service levels, and other factors to make a decision into the feasibility of the annexation.
The possible annexation would provide for an expanded tax base to the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District and would reduce redundancy in apparatus, personnel and equipment costs, and may also identify areas for savings not foreseen at the outset by providing more efficient application of available resources.
It is unknown if it would identify the closure of any existing stations or other fire facilities.
“From discussions, Oakdale Rural officials would like to merge with our organization,” Kelly said during the proposal.
The study is anticipated to be completed by October 2013 and, if annexation went through, would have to be forwarded to the county assessor’s office by January 2014 to realign boundaries for property tax purposes.
If there are any tax increases, the plan would have to be approved through the Proposition 218 tax increase process.
Stanislaus Consolidated already has a management contract in effect to oversee the command structure of both Oakdale Rural and City of Oakdale Fire Departments.
Board Member Shayne Strasser pointed out that the annexation may happen so quickly that the management contract would not need to be renewed.
Kelly said that he’s had numerous discussions with the City of Oakdale officials about the annexation also.
“If they’re motivated to make a merge, we’re going to be moving along and work things out,” said Board President Dave Woods.
Oakdale Fire Fighters Association President Dave Peterson said his membership supports the annexation of the city’s fire department.
Oakdale fire personnel would be absorbed by Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District.
“Cities can no longer stand on its own with their public safety anymore,” said Peterson, commending Chief Kelly on the proposal. “It’s the way of the future. We want to look at it to see if it’s beneficial to the citizens of Oakdale.”
After the meeting, Stanislaus Consolidated Battalion Chief Kevin Wise said the proposal would free Oakdale city officials from administrative functions and liabilities such as workman’s comp claims, contract negotiations, and personnel investigations.
“Those are all things that have a cost value and savings for your city staff,” Wise said.