The firehouse was the most popular place in town Thursday night as the Mosquito Fire Protection District held its regular board meeting.
Spurred by rumors that the district was thinking of merging with the Garden Valley and Georgetown Fire Districts, 60 to 70 residents showed up to find out firsthand what the board had in mind with Director Ralph Hern chairing the meeting in the absence of President John Moalli.
With the board spending the first hour just answering questions, most of the attendees appeared to be there because of one particular item on the agenda — the idea of the district participating in joint discussions as to “the feasibility of functional consolidation of the Garden Valley, Georgetown and Mosquito Fire Districts.”
Hern started out by noting signs that had been posted in the community were, in his words, “grossly inaccurate.” “We are looking at functional consolidation, not merging the three districts,” he said.
Giving examples of functional consolidation, he noted one district might do all the training while another might handle payroll. Joint purchasing could also result in some cost breaks. “We’re just trying to streamline and be more cost-effective,” he said, as he repeated that the board was only looking at functional consolidation and nothing more.
Asked if the district would consider contracting out its fire services, Hern responded that option was not on the table and would not necessarily be cheaper in the long run. No one is talking about taking the Mosquito patch off people’s shoulders, he assured the audience.
On a different topic, Hern told the audience that the $68,000 they will be receiving from the county to pay for an additional firefighter will be included in the 2014-15 budget. Now that the contract has been approved to pay for the additional firefighter, the board voted to start the recruitment process.
On another personnel related matter, it was announced that Captain Chris Johns had accepted the position of Battalion Chief-Operations since the district doesn’t currently have a fire chief. Hern said Johns would provide site and command coverage throughout the fire season with Hern assisting with administrative duties.
The board also looked into contracting with PERS for employee retirement benefits, Hern reported. But the cost would be significantly more. Currently the district pays $13,000 a year toward an employee’s retirement and the employee pays zero. If the district were to join PERS using the 2 percent at 55 formula, the cost to the district would be $24,500 annually with the employee paying an additional $13,000.
Hern announced that Director Tom Harris was resigning effective May 9 and three board positions would be open on the November ballot.
The board also selected Director Ken Joseph and President John Moalli to represent Mosquito in discussions with Garden Valley and Georgetown regarding the functional consolidation.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.