Opinion: Thursday’s fire board meeting is critical


By on Wed, August 16, 2006

Barry Parr
Thursday's fire board meeting will be at the Half Moon Bay fire house, at the southern end of Main Street.

Thursday at 5pm, there will be a critical meeting of the Half Moon Bay and Point Montara Fire Protection Districts.

Everyone who cares about fire protection and how their taxes are spent should be at this meeting. Very few citizens have been attending the fire board meetings—except for firefighters, who have their own interest in the outcome. Thursday, the boards could make a decision that will affect every household on the Coastside.  Unfortunately, the board meetings have not been broadcast on MCTV, and it has been difficult to get information on what’s happening without attending the meetings. You can download the proposals from Coastsider:

The numbers are pretty clear. The request for proposal was jointly created by both the HMBFD and PMFPD district boards. All numbers below are for service to both districts.  They include full staffing at all 3 stations (Half Moon Bay, El Granada, and Moss Beach).

  • Total projected revenue for HMBFD for the 2006/2007 year budget: $7,116,307.
  • Total projected expenditures for HMBFD for the 2006/2007 year budget: $7,302,484 ($185,177 more than the projected income)
  • California Dept of Forestry (CDF) proposal: $6,906,766 ($395,718 under budget)
  • City of San Mateo (CSM) option 1: $7,253,707 ($48,777 under budget)
  • City of San Mateo (CSM) option 2: $7,753,512 ($451,028 over budget)

Capital Improvements: None of the options includes capital improvements.  The 2006/2007 HMB budget has no contribution to financial reserves for major equipment purchases or facility improvement in Half Moon Bay.  If the CDF proposal is accepted, the difference between the current HMB budget and the CDF proposal can be used for capital improvements, equipment purchases, or tax rebates.

Term: CDF will contract for as little as 1 year.  CSM calls for an 8 to 10 year contract.

Firefighters: Both CDF and CSM will hire the entire firefighting and paramedic staff currently employed by HMBFD. PMFPD has no employees, it contracts with HMB.  Under both offers our firefighters are assured the same or higher salary.  CDF will accept the current salaries of firefighters who transfer to CDF.  The cost savings are largely due to shifts in the work week (including more hours for firefighters) and economies in administration and training.

Volunteers: CDF has an adult volunteer firefighter program. CSM has volunteer programs for students.

Merging the districts: Both contract offers assume the two districts will merge.  A service contract and consolidation have been recommended by the independent reviews of the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury and the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo).  The stations and equipment will stay in local ownership of the fire districts.

Standards: Emergency service standards are set by the state and federal governments.  Both agencies making proposals are well qualified. 

The decision taxpayers need to make is how much you want to pay for emergency services and how much more you want to pay in the future.

Please attend the meeting on Aug. 17 - it begins at 5:00 p.m at the Half Moon Bay fire station, 1191 Main St.

Please fax or send your opinion, before Thursday, Aug 17, 2006 to HMBFD, 1191 Main St., HMB 94019. The fax number is 726-0132.