Fire department merger hits roadblock

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Merging the Colusa Fire Department with the Sacramento River Fire Protection District has been put on hold, at least until after the first of the year. 

Colusa officials said the ad hoc committee, which consists of representatives from both agencies, has met regularly to discuss consolidating the two fire departments into one agency, but the group continues to run into snags along the way. 

“It is pretty much the consensus of the group that we would hold off any more meetings for a period of 90 days to get some financial information together,” said Colusa Mayor Greg Ponciano, a representative on the ad hoc committee. 

Since May, the two fire departments have been crossing the strict boundaries that had been in place for 30 years as sort of a test run for consolidation, but the roadblocks to complete a merger have more to do with revenue and expenses, than they do with operations, officials said. 

The Colusa Fire Department was formed in 1873, and is funded from revenues within the city’s general fund, which are expended at the discretion of the City Council. 

Sacramento River Fire Protection District was established in 1997 by consolidating the Colusa County Fire Protection District and the Grand Island Fire Protection District, both established in 1928. The agency receives funding from several sources, including property taxes, special assessments, grants, donations, impact fees, and Indian Gaming Funds. 

“It is my personal feeling from the (last) meeting that any type of merger is not imminent at all,” Ponciano said. “It’s just a lot of moving parts in regards to income, assessments. There are completely different funding sources for the two jurisdictions. There’s a lot to work through.”

Until talks of consolidation resume or the idea is scrapped entirely, the two departments will continue to provide each other mutual aid when needed, officials said. ■