Bodega Bay fire board to chart course after tax failure

Three weeks after Bodega Bay residents voted overwhelmingly to reject increased taxes for fire and emergency medical service, members of the fire district board will meet Tuesday to address the tough choices that come next.

Not all the options have been identified, though some may be simple — like inviting willing district residents to pay the tax hike voluntarily, or even renting out ad space on the sides of fire trucks, board members said.

Ongoing discussions also will include more complicated, long-term solutions that would reframe the district mission and change the way service is delivered, they said.

These could include consolidation of agencies, a topic of discussion countywide as small fire entities increasingly struggle to confront financial shortfalls, board members said.

Another proposal would have the district give up its advanced live support ambulance and shift ambulance service over to a private provider.

"There's no one thing. There's no one silver bullet," board member Charlie Bone said.

The initial talk will center on cutting the nine-member staff to offset deficit costs that would have been covered by the estimated $300,000 sought annually from Measure A, the ballot proposal rejected on April 8.

The district expects to go from three people on duty for each of three shifts — a model firefighters and officials say is inadequate in the first place — to just two on duty at any given time, board members said.

Layoffs may not be based solely on seniority, though Fire Chief Sean Grinnell said the firefighters' union would favor that approach.

Some firefighters are also emergency medical technicians; others are paramedics, who are trained and licensed for more complex medical interventions; three of the staff members are captains, and thus offer management experience the district may decide to maintain.

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