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A case made for the 29 Palms Fire Department

By   /   July 7, 2011  /   14 Comments

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COMMENTARY | OPINION

Is it time to restructure the present model of redevelopment and incorporate the fire department into the picture on equal footing with all redevelopment issues before the city?

Who funds the fire department?

TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA -  The 29 Palms Water District is unable by statute to use ratepayers’s funds to fund the fire department.

The City of 29 doesn’t directly fund the fire department. Not the county. So who funds the fire department?

If not the county, not the city, not the water district, then who directly fund the fire department?

It’s local people who fund the fire department through a 29 Palms Fire Special Property Tax. Seems the people living within the city boundaries and those people living in the immediate unincorporated areas are taking care of business and funding the fire department.But this is not enough.  Where is city funding?

The City has no responsibility to fund the Twentynine Palms Fire Department. The city needs to modernize. The City needs re-exam public safety issues, and shoulder ongoing funding responsibilities for the fire department — and accept the 29 Palms Fire Department into the city.

That means real funding, not just ‘happy shoes’ money thrown at an overpriced and climbing $4.7 million dollar  new performing arts building — and other grandiose redevelopment projects.

Isn‘t it a ripe time for the Mayor to do more than talk about public safety? It’s time to restructure the present model of redevelopment and incorporate the fire department into the picture on equal footing with all redevelopment issues facing the city.

It’s a big move to go beyond ‘feel good’ talk and implement ongoing and better reliable funding for the fire department.

The town of 29 is busily planing for the biggest redevelopment projects in city history. The town Mayor and his Councilmen are embarking on projects to spend tens of millions of dollars on special  redevelopment areas and parking lots. What impact on will these tens of millions of dollars have on the fire department? Have the Mayor or any of his wise men taken a look at this? It’s time for the city to pay to be responsible.

The recently purchased latter fire truck the fire department added to their public safety fleet of firefighting trucks wasn’t a gift. The City had to buy. It was a matter of public safety, insurance requirements, and looking ahead to avoid lawsuits.

Sure, it’s a big move for the city to modernize and move the issue of public safety up the latter. It was a big move for the town to have indebtedness taxpayers for the next 30-years with a debt bond. The Mayor had the courage to do this.

But does he have the courage to cut back on redevelopment and create reliable ongoing funding for the fire department and funding for public disaster safety?

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About the author

Branson Hunter

Senior Corespondent At Large

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.

14 Comments

  1. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

    Ben, Is it lawful for city tax monies to be used to provide services for the unincorporated area's of the 29 Palms Fire District?

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    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Hi Larry,

      Good question. But it seems that the city is already in gray area if there is one at all. The city has spent $200,000.00 on a ladder truck that more thna likely would not respond to the county area. But it could respond to the Base as well as Yucca Valley or the Joshua Tree courthouse in a mutual aid scenario. So it would seem that tax dollars have been spent and the expenditure could be used outside the city limits.

      But nonetheless ggod question on your part

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    • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

      Larry, but it is lawful for 29 to fund its own fire department for which they do not. The homeowners in the immediate unincorporated areas do in fact pay for the entire fire department, now a problem, however, it is time for 29 to help with consistent funding they can rely on.

      Our city had a reserve of 9.8 million Steve Spear reported on October 1, 2010. To this, add tens of millions of dollars of money to play the game of redevelopment, but no finding for the 29 Palms Fire Department?

      I really want you to add substance to the discussion, Larry. Comment on this: “Is it time to restructure the present model of redevelopment and incorporate the fire department into the picture on equal footing with all redevelopment issues before the city?”

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      • Larry Briggs larry briggs says:

        NO.

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      • Larry Briggs larry briggs says:

        Ben, the homeowners in the city limits pay the same rate as those in the unincorporated areas. We pay it as a seperate tax on our tax bill. Now if the city were to also pay for the fire department budget, that would be DOUBLE TAXATION for city taxpayers. That does not sound fair and just to me.

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        • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

          Larry, in terms of public safety, the city can but choses not to, help fund the fire department. Don't fool yourself.

          The city can go into debt or $75-130 million over thirty years but nothing for the fire department. When there is a fire in the city the fire department is there. But the city is not there for the fire department.

          Yucca Valley will declares an emergency to fund their poop removal, but 29 does nothing to help fund the fire department.

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          • Larry Briggs larry briggs says:

            You haven't answered the question. Is it fair or not. It appears you want the city to pay for Desert Heights fire protection. And you want the property owners in Desert heights to not pay anything for fire proetection. Am I reading you correctly?

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            • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

              Hi Larry,

              It seems to me that Branson is trying to say that if the city does not figure out a way to assist the Fire Department with funding we may well find ourselves with no Fire Department at all.

              And when that happens what will the city do then? More than likely contract the service out to the county at an expense that is prohibitive to the General Fund.

              If some think the Sheriff's Department is expensive wait until the city has to fund two County agencies Police and Fire.

              I can tell you that if that happens over 50% of the General Fund will be spent on those two agencies.

              Time has come for the city to start thinking of doing something other than what they have been doing.

              Just food for thought.

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            • Larry Briggs larry briggs says:

              Hi Steve, The water district is having a meeting at 6PM on the 27th to discuss a "fire department property tax" for the fire district. This would be equitable for all the taxpayers in the district. This was also done 5/6 years ago to help the fire department.

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            • Larry Briggs larry briggs says:

              Steve, Forgot to mention that Ben, you and I are in the "29 Palms Fire Special Tax" area. We pay $80.30 a year to support the fire department. If that tax were increased or another special tax were to be approved that would help the fire department. That would also be fair and equitable to the property owners in the City. All the best.

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        • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

          To Larry & Steve:

          LARRY: Where is the double tax? Be specific. I guess you are saying (in a clandestine way), the town could not help fund the fire department even if they wanted to. Hogwash Larry. How many more monkey-wrenches do you have to throw at the fire department and public safety?

          Since Desert Heights helps fund the fire department, it's not an issue for the town. Rather, it's a plus. Both DH and the city should willingly fund the fire department.

          You need to help me out here, Larry, kindly explain the rational behind finding a $4.7 million new theater when we already have one, and ignoring the fire department.

          29 Palms has so much money they factually don't know what to do with it. Approximately $75 million for Pee Wee's Playhouse, parking lots and redevelopment projects, $9.8 million in reserve funds, and the City's new budget's money. The city has mega-million... more than many countries. They're hogging public funds for special friends with special influence.

          I agree, the town can't fund the fire department because the Mayor isn't thinking like a leader. He is unwilling to rock the boat and bring the town up to par on public safety.

          The only hope would be to hire Gary Daigneault to help secure steady funding from the town for the fire department. You want public money, he's the goto guy.

          STEVE: You are so correct. Thanks for your input.

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  2. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

    Hi Steve, In an emergency safety is first and I believe the "city" fire department could and should respond. The "hook&ladder" was a result of the 4 story motel. I think it should be written off as a "gift" to the fire department.

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  3. Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

    Larry, the special district tax is something we all have to live with. It's a matter of public safety. It's a good working fire district that serves the City and it's Desert Heights residents.

    Why is the City 29 Palms so high and mighty such that they have consistently failed to help fund the 29 Palms Fire Department, when they will fund and hence fritter away $4.7 million for a new local theater in town (when the town already owns a theater, leased to Theater 29)? Twentynine Palms is a village of about $14,000? The new theater is a very, very, very, low priority that will benefit some theatergoers and some local play directors.

    On the same subject, I commend Gary Daigneault (the biggest proponent in the Basin for the $4.7 million performing arts theater) for having Fire Chief Thompson on his Friday Close-Up Show. I'm informed the discussion lasted for about 15 minutes. Thank you Mr. Daigneault.

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