CPUD board will delay the seemingly inevitable closing of Chester Fire for another two weeks.
Chester’s FT-paid FD appears that it will no longer be; they have simply run out of money after years of placing bandaids on a gushing wound.
The board stated that running the department costs roughly 2 million dollars annually. It has been on life support from funds from the sewer department and one-time wildfire monies. There has been no foresight that funds would eventually run dry, as leadership within the community utility district has been a revolving door.
The board members are inviting the community to a special meeting that will include a workshop to explore the possibility of running a volunteer fire department and utilizing the some 200,000 the fire fund receives in taxes for skeleton staffing. Yet, there looms the 102,000-dollar insurance bill, which stems from multiple litigations.
General Manager Adam Cox asked the board at this decision, what difference would two weeks make?
Many during the meetings spoke passionately about their disappointment in the actions of the board and General Manager and the lack of education surrounding the latest attempt at passing a measure to partially fund the department with 550,000 dollars through a special property tax. Yet, the community remains strong and hopeful of finding a resolution.
It may be that the board is finally listening to the community finally starting working together, but is it too late? The community of Chester will suffer from higher insurance rates and delayed response times to emergencies if the department is shuttered.
The special meeting to address solutions will be held on Tuesday, November 28th, at 3 pm. The board plans to decide on the fate of the fire department at this meeting, whether to close the doors as of December 31st and phase out employees through February as they find replacement jobs or restructure the department with whatever they have left remaining on the table.