Garden Grove

Fire discussion and perhaps vote on Oct. 9

GARDEN GROVE firefighters in action (Dooley photo).

By Jim Tortolano

More discussion and possibly a decision on whether to move fire and paramedic services from the city fire department to the Orange County Fire Authority is scheduled for the Oct. 9 meeting of the Garden Grove City Council.

On the motion by Councilmember Phat Bui, the council voted 7-0 on Tuesday night to urge city staff and other parties to make their top priority the creation of updated data on the potential switch to be brought back to the council.

Consideration of the agenda item went on for several hours, including recaps of earlier financial projections supplied by the city and the Garden Grove Firefighters Association, which is a main force behind the proposal to make the change.

The city’s financial analyst has produced a report stating that over 10 years, the switch to the OCFA could cost the city up to an additional $14.5 million.  The GGFA countered with its own report arguing that, over time, the city would save $10 million.

“We’ve got a $24.5 million gap,” said Mayor Steve Jones.

Timing of a decision of the possible transfer was a factor in the discussion. Voters on Nov. 6 will decide the fate of Measure O, a one-cent sales tax for Garden Grove to alleviate a looming financial crisis brought on by unfunded pension liability costs.

City Manager Scott Stiles described as “my worst nightmare” the possibility that the city incur additional costs, and then be in even worse shape if voters reject the measure. “It keeps me up at night.”

But Bui said, “I don’t want to wait one day” on making a decision on fire service, arguing that additional paramedic staffing – whether through the OCFA or a reorganized GGFD – could save lives.

Issues discussed included recruitment and retention, infrastructure, public sentiment, the OCFA’s attitude and how local control might be lost.

Also on Tuesday night, the council approved for first reading and introduction an ordinance establishing standards for outdoor dining along Main Street between Garden Grove Boulevard and Acacia Parkway.

 

 

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