Hello all. Upon checking with Fire Chief Heywood and Assistant Fire Chief DeMartini we wanted to pass this meeting information on to all Loyalton Fire personnel, I added several related recipients. See the below message from Rick Maddalena of the Sierra County Fire Protection District #1 Commission regarding the annexation issue and fire and emergency services for the greater City of Loyalton and Community of Sierra Brooks areas; including Loyalton Pines, the SPI Mill property, Loyalton Mobile Estates, the Senior Apartments and ranch properties around town. This public meeting is scheduled for Thursday night at 5:30 pm on April 20th at the Loyalton Social Hall next to the old city pool. This could affect all of us, our families and neighbors for many years to come. We all keep hearing rumors, this is our opportunity to get the information first hand and to speak on the matter in an open forum. Please pass the word around and attend. Thank you.
John I. Evans
Division Fire Chief, Volunteer, City of Loyalton, CA
E.M.T., Eastern Plumas Health Care, Portola, CA
On Tuesday the Sierra Co. Board of Supervisors set a special meeting April 20 at 5:30 PM in the Loyalton Social Hall to hear the public’s thoughts on how best to go into the future for continued fire protection for areas near Loyalton covered by contracts from 1991 and 1992 (Sierra Brooks, Mill Site, Trailer Park) and areas not covered by any agreement (Loyalton Pines, ranches outside Loyalton) and to a lesser degree Verdi CA and Long Valley.
- Options include: a new contract between the Sierra Brooks HOA and Loyalton for Sierra Brooks
- A new contract for areas like the Mill Site and Trailer Park
- Creation of a new Fire District to cover areas near Loyalton (with or without Sierra Brooks)
- Annexation with Sierra Co FPD #1 for areas near Loyalton (with or without Sierra Brooks)
The following is from Scott Schlefstein:
I want everyone to understand how this works. It is complex, and I know this conversation has taken several twist and turns along the way. In order for everyone to understand what is being talked about, I have briefly explained below how we are currently operating.
First of all, I see Rick mentioned some “options”. Let me be clear on one thing. There is NO option for the Sierra Brooks HOA and Loyalton for Sierra Brooks contract fire services. The HOA is a private non-profit homeowner’s association with a two member board of directors (currently), and it is not appropriate for a homeowner’s association to contract with a municipality for fire coverage. The current contract is between county service area 5a and 5, and the City of Loyalton Fire Department.
This below might answer some of your questions on how and why:
The Sierra Brooks contracts which are CSA5a and CSA5 (in place for 27 years) have just been legally reviewed, found to be valid and binding, and updated for liability. Contract 5A is funded by Sierra Brooks property taxes, Contract 5 is funded by Sierra Brooks and a sliver of Loyalton property taxes. Both are bound to county service area law (Government Code Sections 25210.1, et seq,), which provides the following types of services within its legal structure:
1. Extended Police Protection
2. Structural Fire Protection
3. Local Park and Rec
4. Miscellaneous Governmental Services, Including, but not limited to the following:
a. Street Lighting
c. Domestic Water Supply
d. Garbage Dump Maintenance
e. Cemetery Maintenance
f. Flood Control
g. Road Construction and Maintenance
h. Sewage Disposal
i. Snow Removal
* California Law (Government Code Section 25210.8) allows for zones with tax rates varying with the extent of benefit to each zone derived from services provided (fire). Translation: This is how the county provides these services with our tax money after 1956.
* Updates to existing contracts do not constitute them to be “new” contracts, as some have tried to indicate.
* The liability question is answered clearly in each contract for insurance requirements the fire department already has in place.
* Sierra Brooks currently has local control, meaning the taxes taken from the residents for fire coverage, in-zone, goes directly to the fire department providing the service. The current fire district (CSA5a-5) pay the fire department directly. Sierra Brooks has donated a building to Loyalton Fire for a Fire Station in Sierra Brooks. Loyalton Fire is between 0-4 miles away.
* With a big fire district centralized outside of Sierra Brooks, the property owners taxes would go to the district accounts to be distributed by their board of directors. All control lies there with funding, payments, services, contracts, etc.In other words, if a giant fire district, covering a large territory has Sierra Brooks within its territory and has its fire money, they can spend that money ANYWHERE in the district and have complete control over that money. Fire District 1 says they will fund Loyalton Fire the same way, but they will have the option to not do that, and to respond to Sierra Brooks with their other resources. Sierraville is a long response time in comparison.
And just to be clear, there is no other alternative for Sierra Brooks fire protection at this time. Any fire district annexation, or creation would require specific elements in the law, including a LAFCO proceeding, which would take years. These contracts MUST be kept in place right now, no matter what the people decide on fire districts.
If Sierra Brooks wanted its own fire district, it would require a protest ballot for funding in order to save up enough money to run a fire district, the LAFCO, etc., years down the road.
For historical perspective: Sierra Brooks residents petitioned the Board of Supervisors for a fire district in the late 1980’s. But, the option for these current contracts came up through the county service areas, and it was taken.