Sitting as the Board of Fire Commissioners for the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD), County Commissioners approved their 2011-12 budget of $20,377,780 effective on July 1st. The budget takes into consideration approximately $400,000 of savings realized by wage and benefit concessions recently negotiated by the City of Reno and Firefighters Local #731 (which represents firefighters that serve the City of Reno and TMFPD). Of the total TMFPD budget, an estimated $11.3 million would be expended to the City of Reno if TMFPD continues to provide fire services under the Reno Fire Department (RFD); the balance of the funding goes toward capital purchases, capital improvement program, to fund liabilities such as retiree health, workers compensation, fund balances and other operating expenses.
In approving the TMFPD budget, Commissioners noted that 64% of the dedicated funding for TMFPD services come from property taxes within the District’s service territory, and given the housing market collapse and resulting property value declines the District is not financially sustainable in the long-term even with a change in determining cost allocation for the RFD payment as well as recent City of Reno budget reduction measures.
The Commissioners postponed their decision on whether to extend an interlocal agreement between RFD and TMFPD that continues consolidated fire services until their June 14th meeting when they expect to have more information as a result of continued negotiations between staff of both agencies. Specifically, the Board unanimously agreed to schedule this agenda item for June 14th after, 1) an independent financial expert is engaged to review TMFPD’s financials; 2) Firefighters Local #731 receives the Commission’s request to consider concessions of staffing levels to control labor costs (RFD proposes 4-man crews; TMFPD proposes 3-man crews); and 3) staff can report back the outcome of negotiations over the unresolved liability issue expected to be completed by June 1st. The Commission also directed staff to provide an analysis of the costs to terminate the existing agreement should that decision be made. In giving their direction, the Board cited the need to move toward sustainable regional fire services that benefit all citizens living within Washoe County regardless of governance jurisdiction.
For nearly a year, county and city fire services staff have been meeting to develop modifications to the existing 11-year old interlocal agreement to reflect changes in the economic and operations environment. Today’s presentation to the Board showed that of the twelve articles in the agreement, the city and the county have come to full agreement on half of them. The Board is hopeful that the remaining issues can be resolved by their June 14th meeting.