FRESNO, Calif. - Part of Fresno County will keep its fire protection - at least for now. On Monday the Fresno City Council unanimously voted in favor of a new short-term contract between the city and the North Central Fire Protection District. The two have been negotiating a new contract after the city realized it's been working at a deficit.
It's a bit of a bandage until they negotiate a long-term contract. It means Fresno's Fire Department will still provide fire fighters for the district which covers Kerman, Biola, areas of Fresno County. This new contract is a way for the district to stay open but the Fresno tax payers to not pay for the remaining costs.
The District and the city started a 30-year year contract in 2006, but in the past few years the city realized they were working at a lofty deficit.
Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Rudd said the district was paying $5.5 million dollars a year, but service costs are over $6.6 million dollars a year.
"It's kind of on us because we didn't raise the issue with the district so we agreed from this point going forward that they would be responsible for that expense. The deficit it was $1.3 million dollars and growing by one million dollars annually. Because of the time it took for us to come to an agreement we now have a deficit of $4 million dollars," he said.
Fresno City Council President Clint Olivier said the city could not continue providing these services out of pocket.
"Let's face it times are tough and they have been since The Great Recession. Here at the city of Fresno we don't have the numbers to subsidize that fire protection for the city of Kerman," he said.
Fresno City Fire Fighters Association Vice President James Scoggins said Monday's council vote is a step in the right direction for a permanent solution.
"It shows that the Fire Protection District and the city council have come together and worked together their issues. It's good to see a united council in that respect," he said.
North Central Fire Protection District serves 46,000 residents over 250 square miles. The district and the city have 18-months to re-negotiate a long-term contract to finish their 30-year partnership with Fresno City Fire.