Truckee Fire to take over Donner Summit department |

Truckee Fire to take over Donner Summit department

It has been a bumpy road leading to Truckee Fire Protection District’s annexation of the Donner Summit Public Utility District’s fire department, but the process is in the final steps.

Talks to transfer administration and management to the Truckee Fire Protection District began more than two years ago when the summit’s small fire department began struggling with personnel turnover and a financially volatile ambulance service, but red-tape at the county level has been cause for a slow handoff.

“[The annexation is] an issue of long-term sustainability,” said Truckee fire Chief Mike Terwilliger. “The summit has adequate funding to staff one station, but in five or eight years, they won’t.

“This is a way to strengthen and sustain the station, plus they will get more equipment and oversight.”

The benefit for Truckee, according to Terwilliger, is it makes fire protection seamless from Highway 20 at Interstate 80 to the Nevada state line.

“All ambulance services, rescue ” the whole works ” will be under one administration,” he said.

But before making the swap, both special districts had to first undergo reviews of their management services by Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) to ensure that existing revenue sources and service levels could be maintained.

Then, after a thumbs-up from the commission, the two districts needed to pay for new maps delineating Truckee’s existing fire district and the proposed addition in order for county agencies to reallocate funds and tax revenue. Those maps should be finished this week, according to LAFCo Executive Officer SR Jones.

After a vote by LAFCo and a public hearing, and barring any citizen protests, by May the change could be in effect, Jones said. As of yet, neither she nor Tom Skjelstad, Donner Summit Public Utility District general manager, said they have received any complaints.

The Donner Summit Public Utility District currently allocates 65 percent of county property tax revenue to fund the fire department, leaving only the remaining 35 percent for water services, according to Skjelstad. But thanks to the financial stability of Truckee’s fire department, the district was able to negotiate to continue receiving 80 percent of tax revenue.

“Where the utility was getting about $56,000 in revenue, now it will have closer to $128,000,” Skjelstad said. “It will help in covering utility expenses and might help to mitigate future rate increases. It will be a good thing for the community, and we will be glad when it’s done.”

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