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Supervisors approve MOU to continue Regional Helicopter Program funding

One of the surcharges on motor vehicle registration fees helps to fund the Regional Helicopter Program in San Diego County, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a new memorandum of understanding Tuesday, April 30, to provide the Sheriff’s Department with annual funding over the next five fiscal years.

The supervisors’ 5-0 vote will provide up to $375,000 annually from fiscal year 2024-2025 to fiscal year 2028-2029. The funding will help support continued operation, maintenance and fuel for county-owned helicopters when they are used during operations which involve rescue and aid to motorists. The San Diego Association with Governments administers that vehicle registration fee program, so the memorandum of understanding is with SANDAG.

The San Diego Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies program was originally used to fund the installation and operation of call boxes along highways. It is now also used for communication and rescue equipment. The Regional Helicopter Program was originally funded by the SAFE program in 2005.

The funding helps support the costs of operating helicopters which could transport motorists injured in accidents. Nathan Fletcher, who was a member of the county board of supervisors from 2019 to 2023, was in the State Assembly in 2012 when he wrote Assembly Bill 1572, which turned over SAFE responsibilities to the San Diego Association of Governments.

In June 2019, the county board of supervisors approved a five-year agreement with SANDAG allowing the Sheriff’s Department to receive Regional Helicopter Program funding for the costs related to motorist aid-related rescue services. The agreement covered the period from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2024.

The Sheriff’s Department currently has three Bell 205A-1 medium-lift fire/rescue helicopters and one Bell 412EPX helicopter which are used for rescue and aid to motorists. The Regional Helicopter Program will provide 15% of the actual operating costs of those helicopters with a maximum annual amount of $375,000.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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