Election 2016: Truckee fire board candidates tackle development
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Three candidates hoping to be elected to the Truckee Fire Protection District Board of Directors squared off in a public forum Sept. 14 at Truckee Town Hall.
There are two open seats on the board, each for a four-year term, held by current directors Ron Perea and Robert Snyder.
Perea is running for re-election, while former director Gerald Herrick and newcomer Erin Prado are challenging.
Perea has been a board member since 2004. Herrick is running for his second term with TFPD; his first was from 2010-14.
At the forum, candidates were given one minute each to answer questions from the community, as well as local media. Topics ranged from development and defensible space to the distribution of tax revenue and possible consolidation of fire districts.
“I previously served on the board for 4 years and desire to return to finish unfinished business,” said Herrick.
He said that while most of the major housing developments in the Truckee fire district’s service area were approved years ago, the taxes from some of those homes don’t go to the local district.
“There are some major developments, including Martis Camp, that was approved 40 years ago that were not approved by Placer County and the fire district properly, so we have $1.6 million right now going west, rather than staying in the fire district,” Herrick said.
The issue, Herrick said, is that the funds collected for fire protection within the district’s service area (which includes portions of Placer County) do not stay in the district, but are redistributed throughout other parts of Placer County.
“I’ve been working for several years trying to figure out how to have that money stay on the east summit,” said Herrick.
Perea said that while Placer County is collecting tax from local homeowners that is not going to the TFPD, the situation is legal.
“The increase of building is always a problem for everybody, from the fire department, to the PUD, to you name it,” said Perea, who went on to explain that it is the department’s job to serve the community regardless of how much new development is built.
He said he hopes that the district can secure funding for better equipment to help manage the greater demand for service that new development may bring.
Perea also said he doesn’t believe consolidation with neighboring districts is currently something that would benefit Truckee Fire.
“Financially we’re stable. Are the other departments stable?” he said. “It’s just one of the things we have to consider … right now I’m not convinced that’s the way to go.”
Prado, a local restaurant manager, said she felt she can bring management skills and financial oversight to the district.
“The district is in a great financial situation right now,” she said. “… To continue the success of the fire department, we need to concentrate on things that affect our community directly.”
She also said that she is against the idea of consolidation of the four regional fire districts — Squaw Valley, Northstar, Truckee and North Tahoe — because it would create a large jurisdiction for a single fire chief.
“One person cannot do that,” she said.