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NCFPD meeting deals with alternative revenue, conflict of interest code

The meeting of the North County Fire Protection District Board of Directors, Tuesday, Aug. 25, dealt with two main issues, according to Stephen Abbott, fire chief and CEO of the district.

“The one was the conflict of interest code and then the other one was the approval of the alternative revenue implementation plan,” he said during a phone interview.

The revenue implementation plan Abbott referred to was a California State University San Marcos report generated after the school canvased various departments around the country to come up with solutions that the district could consider going forward.

The reason for the need to reevaluate the district’s fee schedule, he said, comes from the failure of Measure A to pass in November 2019.

“We need to find alternative sources of revenue and or create other efficiencies in order to be able to fund our preferred facilities maintenance,” Abbot said. “We had a facility condition assessment report that was done a few years ago, which illustrated we needed about a million dollars a year of ongoing funds dedicated to facility maintenance and construction. Four of our firefighter stations are at or near the end of their useful life.

“With the failure of Measure A, which would for the sake of discussion, would have produced that million dollars a year, we’re now looking outwards through other ways of doing that. Fully implemented, this plan will generate somewhere between a third and a half of what we would need to fund that facilities plan. So, it’s pretty significant. And it’s in line with others are doing more and more around the country in terms of expanding full cost recovery,” Abbott said.

The fee adjustments span from capturing first response and EMS facility costs to code violation billing, and a graduated fee schedule based on the number of false alarms that the district responds to.

“As an example, San Marcos just raised their ambulance rates pretty significantly, between 30% and 40% based on the particular level of service,” Abbott said. “The city of Escondido will similarly be pursuing full costs (as well).”

Abbott said that not all the measures will bring in a ton of money, but he said every little bit will help. For instance, the district receives about 100 false alarms from local businesses each year.

“It’s not a tremendous number, but in that particular case, the issue is not just a matter of recovering costs, but it’s also trying to discourage the repeat offenses,” he said. “Everybody has false alarms for unattended food and those kinds of things. And we anticipate that that, but it’s different when people have faulty alarm systems and they keep going off. We’ve had a few places in town that we’ve made a career of responding to.”

The board unanimously agreed to move forward with the plan and staff will come back with the adjusted fee schedule in a couple of months, Abbott said.

The council also reviewed and approve district counsel’s recommendation to amend the district’s conflict of interest code and send paperwork on the amendment to the county.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected].


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