A Board comprised of elected officials from the Washoe County Commission and the Reno City Council met today as the Joint Fire Advisory Board (JFAB) to receive a status report on the progress of modifications to the interlocal agreement between the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD) and the City of Reno’s Fire Department to continue merged services of the two entities.
The two fire service agencies were merged in 2000 in an effort to reduce costs while maintaining or enhancing services. In addition to the need to revisit a contract that is 11 years old, the current economic environment today is very different from when the agreement creating the merged fire services was first implemented. Specifically, the collapse of Nevada’s housing market has caused property tax revenues to fall dramatically—a major funding source for both fire departments. Increased labor expenses, such as health care costs and other cost increases guaranteed by past labor contracts, also have made the on-going operations of fire services under the merged model unsustainable.
For nearly a year, county and city fire services staff have been meeting to develop modifications to the interlocal agreement to recommend to both governing bodies. Today, staff presented a status report that showed of the twelve articles in the agreement, the city and the county have come to full agreement on half of them. There are four areas that still have some aspect of non-consensus, and two areas that will be resolved once those four are decided. The four areas of non-consensus involved articles covering fire suppression and prevention (specifically a 4 vs. 3 man crew); workers’ compensation (concerning buyout provisions); insurance and liability coverage; and some miscellaneous items involving liability exposures. Staff stated that they were either looking for policy-level direction from JFAB or needed more time to negotiate with each other in these four areas that still need to be resolved in order to make a consensus recommendation.
After much discussion and public input, County Commissioner Bob Larkin (sitting in as alternate for County Commissioner Bonnie Weber) made the motion to take staff’s report, including information on the four areas of non-consensus, to each entity’s respective governing bodies (i.e., the Reno City Council and Washoe County Commission). The motion was seconded by JFAB Chairwoman and County Commissioner Kitty Jung, and passed by a vote of 2-1 with Reno Councilman Dave Aiazzi dissenting who said he believed the JFAB should recommend resolutions for the four areas of non-consensus before it goes to the council or commission. JFAB member Reno City Councilwoman Sharon Zadra and JFAB-alternate Reno City Councilman Pierre Hascheff were not present at the meeting today.