Current Issues

Chamber Advocates for Fire Department Consolidation.  Read on for frequently asked questions.

 

  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

FAQ’s regarding consolidation of fire and emergency medical services within the areas of Polk and Yamhill Counties currently represented by The City of Dallas, Sheridan Fire District, SW Polk Rural Fire Protection District and West Valley Fire District.
Frequently asked questions — and answers — about the proposed consolidation of the three fire districts and the Dallas fire and ems services— prepared by the Fire & EMS Planning Coalition (representatives of the four agencies).

Background
The four agencies are proposing a pilot consolidation of their fire and ems services. Once approved, a joint management services agreement between the four agencies could go into effect as early as July 1, 2019. The following questions and answers provide details about the proposed consolidation.

 

  • What is changing?
  • When would the change go into effect?
  • Why are the four fire agencies considering consolidation?
  • Are these the first fire and ems services to consider consolidation?
  • Whose idea was it to consolidate?
  • Will this consolidation of fire and emergency medical services affect my annual tax payment?
  • Would operating costs for the consolidated fire and ems services be shared?
  • Who would oversee the consolidated department?
  • What impact would the consolidation have on fire and emergency medical services to the area citizens?
  • Would fire and ems staff physically relocate?
  • Would current fire and ems service programs continue?
  • Would there be any changes to police services?

What is changing?
The four agencies are considering a pilot consolidation of their fire and ems service delivery systems. Phase I of the consolidation would involve only management functions. All firefighters employed by each department would remain employees of their current departments, and all current bargaining agreements would remain in place. Phase I of the consolidation would include sharing the cost of a single fire chief, restructuring administrative support functions, and exploring opportunities to leverage resources through joint purchasing power. The four fire agencies also would establish a single operational structure and implement standardized training, policies and procedures.

 

This effort will take the place of the several current individual intergovernmental agreements (IGA) these agencies have between each other currently.

 

Phase II brings the benefits from consolidation that occurred in phase I to allow for increased response personnel and thus provider quicker, faster, safer services to our citizens.

When would the change go into effect?
This new IGA will be discussed at the March City Council and Fire District Board meetings. The intent is for the City Council to authorize the city manager to enter into a management services agreement with the three fire districts. The three districts will then review with the proposed IGA with the City of Dallas. The agreement defines the terms for Phase 1 of the consolidation. If approved, the agreement would take effect on July 1, 2019.

Why are the four fire agencies considering consolidation?
All four agencies have operated their own fire and ems service system since their inception. Each agency has their own history of previous consolidation efforts to enhance their service delivery system. There is a high level of cooperation between the four agencies, yet they maintain separate organizational infrastructures. As is the case in many areas, budgetary pressures are creating difficulties in maintaining appropriate levels of service. The goal of the proposed consolidation is to provide the best fire and ems services possible to the areas and communities given available resources. The plan would eliminate redundancy and duplication of effort, provide opportunities for cost savings, and enhance the level of service for all four agencies. At the same time, the proposed consolidation would generate significant savings over individually meeting the same service levels.

Are these the first fire and ems services to consider consolidation?
No. Consolidating fire and ems services is a nationwide trend to maintain fire and emergency medical response in the face of budget challenges. There are several nearby completed examples: Lane Fire Authority, Redmond Fire District and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. Several other nearby areas are considering similar processes: McMinnville, Forest Grove, Cornelius, and Albany.

Whose idea was it to consolidate?
Several studies have been undertaken over previous years to identify areas, where the agencies involved, could increase cooperation. Those studies had indicated that the possibilities were limited by the existence of separate distinct management structures. In 2017, two fire chiefs announced their intentions to retire. This presented a unique opportunity to consider a new management model for fire and ems services across the four service areas. Before initiating the recruitment of new fire chiefs, the agencies came together to create the Fire & EMS Planning Coalition to review and determine if full consolidation would benefit all areas and communities involved.

The Fire & EMS Planning Coalition was developed by assigning representatives as follows: two city council or two board directors and the Fire Chief or City Manager from each agency. This coalition meets periodically to establish, review and propose the direction of the consolidation efforts.

Will this consolidation of fire and emergency medical services affect my annual tax payment? Yes, there will be an increase in the annual property tax, however, the increase will be less than if the fire and ems system(s) were enhanced as individual agency systems. The amount of any increase will vary upon which service area you are located within.

 

The chart below describes each agency annual tax changes.

  • The first row lists the agency name.
  • Row two describes the current tax rate per $1000 of property assessed value.
  • Row three is the estimated tax rate per $1000 of property assessed value for each individual agency to accomplish the proposed service level increases on their own.
  • The final row delineates the tax rate per $1000 of property assessed value if the fore agencies consolidate.
AGENCY NAME Dallas Fire & EMS Sheridan           Fire District SW Polk Fire District West Valley       Fire District
Current tax rate per $1000* $1.21 $1.47 $1.54 1.46
Individual tax rate per $1000 $2.65 $2.45 $2.57 $3.23
Consolidated tax rate per $1000 $1.94 $1.94 $1.94 $1.94

*This rate includes any bond and/or levy rates and is rounded to the nearest hundredths.

Would there be other benefits associated with consolidation?

Infrastructure improvements associated with the consolidation will improve service to the community. For example, all agencies could begin using a common information technology service including the need for meeting Oregon Records Retention laws. Emergency planning could also be improved through common practices and stronger communication.

Would operating costs for the consolidated fire & ems agencies be shared?
Under the Phase 1 management services agreement, jointly funding the administrative functions would be split equitably between the agencies.

Who would oversee the consolidated agencies?
Beginning in Phase I, the fire chief would be shared by all agencies. In addition to the fire chief, all agencies would share several senior command staff personnel. The fire chief would report to the Fire & EMS Planning Coalition.

 

What impact would the consolidation have on fire and emergency medical services to the areas involved?
The consolidation effort is designed to increase fire & ems services within all agency areas involved. Eliminating the current vacant administrative positions within each agency thus allowing for those dollars to increase the number of fire and ems service providers. (firefighters & EMTs)

 

Will the fire & emergency medical service levels differ from what my family currently enjoys?

Yes, the focus of consolidated fire & emergency medical services is to increase the service level to the citizens of all agencies involved. This increased level of service will come in the form of increased staffing, quicker response times, increased operational efficiency and economy of scale.

 

Will the fire and emergency medical vehicles that I have paid taxes to purchase stay at their current location?

Yes, however sometimes vehicles are temporarily repositioned for the purpose of providing the best service to all citizens. Currently we move vehicles to assist with major emergencies and shift them to centralized locations to provide the best coverage.

 

Would current fire and ems staff physically relocate?
The same or increased numbers of fire and ems line personnel would remain in their current locations. Fire and ems line personnel would continue to provide service though they may be reorganized for the purpose of providing increased service throughout all areas involved. Shared personnel most likely would be relocated to the most appropriate facility for their position. Many would further maintain a base office but would require some travel throughout the areas to fulfill their duties.

Would the current programs and community projects continue?
Yes, current programs will be enhanced and possible expanded across all four areas, ie…. the Dallas/SW Polk Public Access to AED program would expand to include Sheridan and West Valley Fire Districts. As another example, current community projects like hanging Christmas lights would also be continued in all four areas.


Would there be any changes to police services?

Police services are not part of the proposed consolidation, and no consolidation of law enforcement services is planned at this time. Police and crime prevention services would continue to be managed by the appropriate police agency as separate, but mutually cooperative, agencies.

What Does Public Policy Do?

The Public Policy Committee of the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce is the primary advocacy group of the Chamber.

The committee is charged by the Chamber Board of Directors to develop, articulate and reinforce the Chamber’s position as the voice of business in the Dallas area with local, state and federal political and policy leaders.

Its positions are based upon the merit and effect of the policy proposals on the business community.

The committee acts as an advisor to the board and all recommendations for positions/actions are presented to the board for adoption.