RAREY HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN INCREASING FIRE PROTECTION
Council Member Karen Rarey has served as chairman of the Fire & Medical Services Ad Hoc since January 2017, when it was first formed. The Ad Hoc Committee, which originally consisted of Council Member Rarey and Vice Mayor Steve Barr, worked hand-in-hand with East Contra Costa Fire Protection District to find ways to increase Fire Protection Services in far East County (See “Ad Hoc Committee Timeline” below).
As you can see, under “2018 Fire & Medical Services Ad Hoc Committee Actions,” Council Member Rarey called for all new development to have annual fire-specific Community Facility District (CFD) assessments and increased Fire Development Impact Fees (DIF).
In 2019, both the City and ECCFPD (based on its adopted 2019-2023 Strategic Plan) stopped the hemorrhaging the district was experiencing due to increased housing, by adopting Fire-specific CFDs for staffing fire personnel and analyzed what increases were needed regarding DIFs to build more fire stations. What that means is that those annual district-wide CFD assessments and one-time DIFs on new development will not only “fund” the ongoing costs to staff 3 “NEW” fire stations, but to also build those stations.
Council Member Rarey said, "We can’t make new development pay for the deficit we are currently in, but we can make it pay for the impact it will have on the fire district."
Even ECCFPD Chief Helmick has said that had these Fire-specific CFDs and appropriate DIFs been created when East Contra Costa Fire Protection District was established in 2002, the District wouldn’t be in the dire straits it’s in now.
FIRE & MEDICAL SERVICES AD HOC COMMITTEE TIMELINE
2017 Fire & Medical Services Ad Hoc Committee Actions:
EFFORTS TO KEEP KNIGHTSEN STATION OPEN:
● Under Rarey's leadership, Brentwood’s Fire Ad Hoc committee reached out to Oakley and the County trying to continue the MOU to keep the Knightsen station open. By the time all parties (Brentwood, Oakley, County & ECCFPD) came to the table with funding options, ECCFPD had lost too many fire personnel to keep the Knightsen station open https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/05/02/east-county-will-lose-knightsen-fire-station-again-for-up-to-a-year/)
EVALUATED COST FOR BRENTWOOD TO ESTABLISH ITS OWN FIRE DEPARTMENT:
● Determined it was cost prohibitive – $16-17M for 3 stations, which would mean significant cuts to the budget and/or going to the residents with a significant tax measure to fund the new department. The above cost did not include the cost to build stations or purchase equipment. If established, a city of Brentwood Fire Department would still respond to auto-aid and mutual-aid calls in surrounding districts (ECCFPD, ConFire, etc.) Also, LAFCO (contracostalafco.org) would have to approve the separation from ECCFPD, and their executive director said the taxes paid to the fire district (approx. $5M in 2017 dollars) by Brentwood residents would have to remain with ECCFPD to make that district whole.
RESOURCES THE CITY OFFERED ECCFPD FOR FIRE & MEDICAL SERVICES:
● In 2017, Brentwood’s Fire Ad Hoc (along with the assistance of its finance dept.) determined there was $2.1M in City Community Facility District assessments available for 3 years, at which point it would drop to $1.2M annually. Brentwood also had the funding to build another fire station ($6.5M available). ECCFPD determined the CFD wasn’t a sustainable source, as well as the district lacked the funding to make up the delta needed to fund an engine company ($4.5M) or even a 2-man squad to run medical calls/work fire calls (estimated at $3M at the time).
2018 Fire & Medical Services Ad Hoc Committee Actions:
FIRE-SPECIFIC COMMUNITY FACILITY DISTRICT AND FIRE DEVELOPMENT IMPACT FEES:
● In 2018, at both a council meeting workshop and Fire & Medical Services Ad Hoc meeting, Council Member Rarey called for Fire-specific CFDs and an increase in Fire DIFs. Later that year, ECCFPD’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan determined that by imposing a Fire CFD and increasing Fire DIFs on “NEW” development, the district would be able to build and staff three new stations.
EAST CONTRA COSTA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT’S STRATEGIC PLAN:
● Negotiations between the City and ECCFPD fire ad hoc committees were put on hold until ECCFPD adopted its 2019-2023 Strategic Plan and installed its first elected board. The Strategic Plan (https://www.eccfpd.org/files/920776d72/ECCFPD+Strategic+Plan+2019-2023.pdf) establishes strategies for the next five years to meet the District’s five overarching goals. The Plan articulates the organizational mission and vision of the District and establishes a set of values and goals as a guide for decision making. The associated Implementation Action Plan identifies projects and funding needs necessary to implement this Strategic Plan. Without new resources and funding, significant reductions in emergency response times will not be possible.
2019 Fire & Medical Services Ad Hoc Committee Actions:
FIRE-FIRST SERVICE ENHANCEMENT CONCEPT APPROVED BY BRENTWOOD COUNCIL & ECCFPD BOARD:
● The fire-first Service Enhancement Concept initiative means that all “NEW” development will be assessed an annual ECCFPD Fire Community Facilities District (CFD) Fee. This annual fee is above and beyond what ECCFPD receives from property taxes on new homes and is meant to make up the delta between the property tax portion which goes to fire and the impact that new home has on the Fire District. Also, depending on the size of the development (large vs small), some builders through developer agreements will be required to pay for a 2-man emergency squad upfront (for 3 years) in order to begin building in Brentwood. This squad will continue to be funded by the new Fire CFD’s fees noted above. Two or more of these squads can be combined to create full engine companies. (https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2019/08/16/brentwood-fire-district-agree-to-add-two-person-rescue-squads/)
BRENTWOOD AND ECCFPD MOVE FORWARD WITH DESIGN-BUILD FOR NEW STATION & ADMIN BUILDING:
● Brentwood authorizes the Use of Design-Build Procurement and the Issuance of a Request For Proposals for the Preliminary Design Documents for the Fire Station in the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, and prepare a General Plan amendment for future Council consideration to change the land use designation at Grant Street/Empire Avenue from Park to Public Facility. Why build? If we don’t begin building now, when funding does become available for staffing, it would take to 2-3 years to build a fire station to house a new engine company.
2020 Fire & Medical Services Ad Hoc Committee Actions:
BRENTWOOD/ECCFPD FIRE AD HOCS RESUME FINANCING DISCUSSIONS
● Brentwood/ECCFPD Fire & Medical Services Ad Hoc committees resume brainstorming to determine ECCFPD funding options, including possible cuts to City services.