Despite failed tax measure, Susan River looks to move on
The measure needed 66 percent of those who voted to be in favor of the tax, but received just over 63 percent.
Board members touched on almost every topic affecting their district, from price cuts to essential services to their relationship with the community.
SFRPD Chief Glen Hodgson was asked to suggest certain functions in the district he considered vital and functions that could be cut. He said out of all the areas that could be reevaluated in the district, the mutual aid agreement with the Susanville Fire Department and the rest of the county’s fire agencies was absolutely necessary, and to cut it would be a major step backward for the whole county. The board agreed their mutual response to incidents should remain intact.
The board’s focus then shifted toward figuring out what needed to be cut from the budget in order to keep the district operational. Board president Randy Darrow eventually spoke up and set it straight that he didn’t want the board to immediately start making drastic cuts all over the place as a result of the failed tax measure.
“I’m basically not liking anything I’m hearing here,” Darrow said to the board. “The ballot measure – it didn’t work, but there were reasons why it didn’t work. And I don’t think we’ve spent enough time yet talking about why it didn’t work, and what our next step should be to not lose anything.”
Darrow expressed that the district has never overspent its budget, and that the board has always been very diligent in its money management. The comment was made that the district wouldn’t be in serious monetary trouble until sometime next year.
Everyone agreed that certain expenditures should remain, such as the annual Kiddie Ride night, which all boardmembers agreed was necessary for keeping up community relations. It was also agree the board would pay $4,000 to match a grant received that would get new wildland gear to all the volunteers in the district.
As for measures to cut costs, or increase revenues, the board agreed to draft up a letter to all the voters in the district asking them their reasons for voting against the tax. Darrow said that it was important that the focus be on bringing that tax measure back to a ballot, but in a way that the voters might appreciate more. The letter would also ask for donations from anyone who wanted to help the district.
The district’s oldest active engine, Number 226, was also approved to be sold in the near future. The board members also agreed to donate their yearly salary back to the district to help offset the costs of the Kiddie Ride night. Each member makes about $275 a year for being on the board.
The last thing the board agreed on to save money was to store two unused water tankers for the winter, as opposed to keeping them ready to go.
At the end of the meeting, boardmember Jim McCarthy suggested that the board members try and come up with a set of bylaws to refer to in situations of confusion. He said that beyond the original charter from when the district was first created, the board didn’t have any sort of set guidelines that defined their duties. He said bylaws would be very helpful in a situation where boardmembers didn’t know the next step.
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