May 17, 2016 10:29 AM by News Staff
The future of Calfire in Butte County is still up in the air. Public hearings will be held in each supervisorial district through the month of June.
The county has contracted with the state agency for 85 years, but county leaders are trying to reduce costs.
Supervisors approved spending $1.1 million in higher labor costs for the 2015-16 fiscal year while they had no say in salary and benefit negotiations.
Last month they surveyed residents to express their views on the current Calfire Butte County service.
The survey asked respondents to indicate which services are important and how satisfied they are with services for structural and wildland firefighting, search and rescue, inspections and education.
"The growing costs of fire service in the county just simply aren't sustainable,” said Casey Hatcher, Butte County Public Information Officer. “They are taking more and more of the general fund and we have to do something to make sure that it doesn't become the only service the general fund can pay for."
The county funds 105 full-time equivalent positions at a cost of $15 million and has 170 volunteer fire department members.
Supervisors say there are three options: maintaining the current Calfire contract, but seeking to cut costs; creating a stand-alone fire department in the county government; or establishing a single countywide fire district.