In 2005 the Twentynine Palms Water District as the managing agency for the Twentynine Palms Fire Department offered a proposal to the voters of the city of Twentynine Palms.
That proposal was called Measure “J”. It took 2/3rds of the vote to pass the measure and it passed.
I think it is time to take a look back at what measure”J” promised to do.
“To ensure a dependable and reliable revenue source for the Twentynine Palms Fire Department, enabling the staffing of two fire stations for an estimated eight years, shall the annual special tax for funding of fire and emergency medical services be increased from the current $54.00 per unit to the new amount of $80.00 per unit, as defined in the unit schedule of Ordinance 89 of the District?”
Within 3 days of the passage of Measure “J” the Lear fire station was re-opened and staffed as money became available and by May of that year the station was fully staffed 24-7.
It should also be noted that Measure “J” provided for the staffing of two fire stations for an estimated 8 years.
It has been reported to me by several reliable sources that the current city manager has what are called “several binders” of material that he plans to use to attempt to discredit our Fire Department and our Water Board. His plans are to somehow show that our Water District and Fire Department have been mismanaged and that both agencies have failed to perform their duty.
Well, since it is only “reported” that Richard Warne, a local arrival, who can’t in any sense of the word be called a “local”, has yet to offer these “binders” of information I can only evaluate the record of performance that is available for all to see. Should he offer these “binders” it will only serve to show that the city is not serious in providing for the public safety and is only concerned with dodging its public safety requirement.
Our Water District and our Fire Department made a contract with the people of this city in 2005 to man two fire stations for eight years and they have kept that promise and fulfilled their contract with the people.
On the other hand we as a city now face a difficult time in regards to public safety vis-a-vis the Fire Department and the recent failure of Measure “H”. With the failure of Measure “H” our Fire Department will enter into deficit spending come fiscal year 2013 – which by no coincidence is exactly 8 years after the passage of measure “J”.
With no adequate funding source the Water District looked to the city for cooperation in seeking a solution to the problem but the city offered no solutions. The city remained silent publicly but was working behind the scenes to dodge its public safety mandate. The city brokered with LAFCO to devise a solution for required fire protection by abdicating its responsibility for that fire protection to the county of San Bernardino.
There can be no argument that the city, to date, has failed to offer any solution that may result in expenditures of the city general tax revenues in order to save our own Fire Department and to subsequently retain local control.
Our Water Board knows that our Fire Department can be saved. What is not clear is if our city wishes to save our Fire Department or does it wish to continue down the path it has taken for 25 years – that of not providing a dime of its revenues towards fire protection.
The primary purpose of the city is public safety which by definition means police and FIRE protection.
Our city has done well in providing police protection. It is now time for the city to step up to the plate and broker a partnership with the Water District to provide the excellent service we are accustomed to with our own Fire Department. Anything else will be a breach of contract by the city with its citizens – something the Water District and our Fire Department never did.