Moraga, CA

Moraga Town Council opposing fire district consolidation

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By Ian Firstenberg

(MORAGA, Calif.) The Moraga Town Council will likely oppose a consolidation of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District (MOFD) with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection according to a staff report released Wednesday morning.

The item will be discussed the town council meeting on Wednesday May 19. There is no agenda available for that meeting yet but according to the report released ahead of the May 12 meeting, a group of town officials, including the mayor, strongly oppose the consolidation.

"While the Town of Moraga is a separate entity to MOFD, the Town works collaboratively with MOFD on fire safety, prevention and evacuation and is responsible for representing Moraga residents and businesses," part of the staff report read. "As such, the Town may want to discuss the possibility of the Council sending a letter to MOFD opposing a study of a MOFD consolidation/dissolution process and supporting the preservation of the locally-controlled and locally-focused fire district."

The report attached a draft letter from Moraga Mayor Michael McCluer that echoed this dissention.

"We strongly oppose MOFD spending resources studying a process for consolidation with ConFire. Resources should continue to be spent on the delivery of high-quality fire protection, fire safety, and emergency response systems," McCluer wrote.

According to the staff report, the town's fire district was established in 1997 "to provide high quality and fire protection services tailored to local needs of the Town of Moraga and City of Orinda."

This comes as a number of municipalities around the county, including Brentwood and East Contra Costa County, have consolidated their fire districts.

MOFD has a board of directors and controls roughly $26 million annually in property tax revenue, a seperate property task in the district that draws about $1.2 million annually and an additional $1.2 million in ambulance revenue.

This is not the first time consolidation has been discussed, previously in 2009 both cities opposed the consolidation. There has been no indication from Orinda city officials whether they will oppose or support the consolidation move and no items on its recent city council agendas to indicate that they will oppose the move.

A number of letters from Moraga residents and town council officials, attached to this week's town council agenda, indicates that town residents town officials vehemntly oppose the consolidation on the basis of safety and response times.

"It seems crucially important to us in an area with high fire danger and many older citizens to have local resources controlled locally," wrote Diana Davisson. "Quick responses are especially crucial in times of drought. MOFD was formed because of frustration with the combined county and fire and emergency response."

Dave and Joan Seldon echoed this and asked the council what the possible benefits would be of a consolidation.

"MOFD is locally-focused, managed, and has control over the tax dollars that fund our fire district. MOFD understands our terrain, network of roads, vegetation, open space, and commercial areas," wrote Dave and Joan Seldon.

The Moraga Town Council meets virtually at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday May 12.

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