San Miguel Fire To Outsource Fire Protection
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Aired 5/15/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Guests: Gary Croucher, Interim San Miguel Fire Chief
Tom Porter, CAL FIRE Chief
The budget deficit carried by the East County's San Miguel Consolidated Fire District keeps growing in spite of budget cuts and will continue in this negative pattern for the foreseeable future.
The district has decided to deal with this issue by outsourcing its job. The district's board has accepted a proposal from CAL FIRE, the state fire protection agency, to take over the district's job. When negotiations are complete, the 92 employees of San Miguel Fire will become state employees.
Many in communities within the 47 square miles of San Miguel's service area are worried about the quality of service they will receive under this arrangement, especially now, when brush fire season is imminent. San Miguel and CAL FIRE officials are anxious to allay these fears. They believe service will actually improve.
One of the causes for the ongoing deficits is a 20% drop in property tax revenues since the recession began. The district also pays lifetime health and dental benefits for its firefighters and their families.