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Granite Bay likely to lose fire station

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Closure is inevitable for one Granite Bay fire station, according to officials with the South Placer Fire District. The district board voted unanimously Wednesday night not to move forward with a voter-approved tax assessment that would have helped fund the district and prevented the closure of a fire station. The district hired a private consultant to send out a survey last year to learn whether the community would support a ballot measure to raise property taxes in Granite Bay. The results, revealed last month, indicated residents do not want their property taxes raised. “(The board) took the consultant’s recommendation, which was that there was not enough community support recognized in the survey,” said district fire chief Tony Corado. “We were pretty sure that the board was not going to take action on it.” Corado said the South Placer Fire District is now considering closing one of its five fire stations and looking at how much money it will save by doing so. “The staff will be coming back with a prioritized list and recommendation of which fire station to close,” Corado said. Kelly Moretti, captain with the South Placer Fire District and president of the local union for the South Placer Firefighters Association, said the closure of a fire station is not necessarily a bad thing. “We understand that we can’t hire more people,” Moretti said. “So the next logical step is to close a fire station.” Moretti said it’s likely service won’t be negatively affected, but may actually be improved. “We feel that we are a little bit too spread out,” he said. “We have five staffed stations currently, and four of them are staffed with two people.” Moretti said while response times may be delayed by up to two minutes, depending on which station is closed down, moving to three-person companies would actually make the district more efficient when an engine does arrive to a call. “There are studies that show that it’s actually faster by several minutes in certain evolutions,” he said. “The things a three-person crew can do over the things a two-person crew can do are much more efficient.” Which fire station will close and the timeline for the closure will be discussed at the next fire district board meeting on March 21, Corado said. Corado said the district has consistently seen declining revenues over the past several years due to waning property taxes, and it anticipates another 3 percent reduction in revenue for the 2012-13 budget. He said in addition to closing a fire station, the district is also reconfiguring the salary scale of its employees, looking at retirement rates and “probably a little bit more.” “We’re going to have to make it up somewhere,” he said. “It’s just tough times.” New fire chief At the board meeting Wednesday, Corado also announced he is planning to retire as fire chief after 33 years of service with the district. Corado began serving with the South Placer Fire District when he was 18 years old and has held the position as chief for the past 14 years. He said his retirement is in no way related to the recent and upcoming budget cuts. “I would rather retire a little bit early than a little too late,” Corado said. “I’m at the point where somebody in a safety position would want to retire anyway.” The district board of supervisors will hold a special closed session with legal council on March 6 to see how it wants to proceed with the succession, Corado said. Corado’s last day with the district will be June 1. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.