Prior to placing a funding Measure on the local ballot, District officials investigated five alternatives for addressing the District’s growing fiscal challenges; thus, avoiding a reduction in the levels of fire protection and emergency medical (paramedic and ambulance) services presently being provided to the residents of Fallbrook, Bonsall, and Rainbow. Of course, each alternative has inherent advantages and disadvantages.
1) Reduce the fire protection District’s work force (including firefighters, paramedics, and support staff). While reducing operating costs, this would increase response time when emergencies arise…to make note of just one of many consequences of embracing this alternative.
Thus, District officials have ruled out this alternative, which is consistent with the community’s feedback from an 8-week public outreach effort.
2) Station Closures. The District presently operates 5 fire stations; in order to reduce operating costs, one or more of these fire stations could be closed. However, this would significantly reduce the level of coverage to residents who are served by the station(s) to be closed. Here again, neither District officials, nor the residents who reside in north County, see this alternative as being acceptable.
3) Restructure ambulance services. Should this happen, the cost of medical transport to local residents could increase as much as 80%; furthermore, Fallbrook and Bonsall residents will have less local control as to quality of services that are provided. Ambulance response time would also increase by several minutes. Thus, District officials have ruled out this alternative, which is consistent with the collective wishes of local residents.
4) Consolidate the NCFPD with neighboring fire protection and emergency service agencies or cities. While having specific fiscal advantages, this alternative removes local control of the fire protection and emergency services being provided to residents throughout north San Diego County. It could also quite likely result in Fallbrook, Bonsall, and Rainbow residents subsidizing services to other communities. This is not seen by local residents as being a desirable alternative; District officials agree.
5) Seek additional funding. The only alternative that makes sense to both District officials and most constituents throughout the District’s service area is for the District to seek additional funding. This comes in two forms: (i) secure grants and (ii) place a funding Measure before local voters, asking for them to authorize a modest increase in property taxes.
Securing federal and state grants, and grants from the private sector, is a viable and important resource; indeed, the District has in place in-depth expertise in securing grants. Most recently, for example, the District was able to secure two Neighborhood Reinvestment Grants totaling $109,000 to be used to purchase communication and breathing apparatus equipment.
In fact, since 2008, the NCFPD secured nearly $4 million in grants (specifically, $3,793,354).
However, the current need in deferred facility improvements and replacements alone is $26.5 million. Thus, while grants play a vital role in securing needed funding for the District, the fiscal challenges presently facing the NCFPD simply cannot be resolved solely through Grants.
Thus, the only realistic alternative for addressing the fiscal challenges presently facing the NCFPD, in order to avoid making cutbacks in the fire protection and emergency services presently being provided bythe District, is to ask local voters to authorize a modest increase in the property tax that currently supports the fire protection District.
Prop A is intended to do precisely that.