With a key piece of the the puzzle in place, the El Dorado Hills Fire Department’s annexation of the Latrobe Fire District moves forward.
Last month the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported the annexation and adjusted the Assembly Bill 8 tax rate for parcels within the now-dissolved Latrobe district to match the rate El Dorado Hills Fire currently receives in its district. Latrobe’s rate was 4.3 cents per dollar; EDH Fire receives 17 cents per dollar. This adjustment, which primarily comes from the county’s General Fund, will add a couple hundred thousand dollars to EDH Fire’s budget.
Latrobe’s 2013-14 budget was about $165,000 a year; El Dorado Hills operates a $14 million budget.
“The annexation of the former Latrobe Fire District into El Dorado Hills Fire marks the culmination of months of work,” District 3 Supervisor and Former EDH Fire Chief Brian Veerkamp said. “County staff, along with staff from both fire districts and boards of directors, should be commended on their dedication and effort to see this process through to the end.”
The annexation is expected to be finalized by the El Dorado Local Agency Formation Commission sometime this year. An informal workshop to explain the annexation process and take public comment on the proposal and plan for service is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 10, at Miller’s Hill School 7900 South Shingle Road in Shingle Springs. For more information call the LAFCO office at (530) 295-2707.
If LAFCO receives valid, written protests from 25 to 50 percent of the affected population, the annexation will go on the ballot, according to LAFCO Executive Officer José Henriquez. If more than 50 percent of the population submits valid protests, the annexation will fail.
The annexation will add approximately 27,840 acres into El Dorado Hills district, according to information provided by the county. The Latrobe Fire District encompasses approximately 23,390 acres of the county and has a “sphere of influence” of an additional 4,450 acres.
Negotiations to combine the neighboring fire district began about two years ago. Local funding that kept Latrobe and other small El Dorado County fire districts afloat was disappearing. The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors eliminated its Aid to Fire program in 2011, providing limited financial patches in the few years following, and this happened around the same time property values took a dive, EDH Fire Chief Dave Roberts explained.
The “double whammy” brought Latrobe and El Dorado Hills, which had discussed annexation in the past, back to the negotiations table.
The El Dorado Hills/Latrobe Plan for Service approved by both fire boards states: “The Latrobe community would be staffed 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days per week, with after-hour response from volunteers, apprentices and the closest staffed resource, most likely Station 87,” and, “Chief officer coverage would be 24/7/365 by the shift battalion chief or the assigned duty chief responding typically from Station 85.
“It is the intent of the El Dorado Hills Fire Department and the EDHFD Board of Directors to fully staff the Latrobe area with a three-person engine company (captain, engineer, firefighter/paramedic) 24/7/365 as soon as practical,” the document continues. “Increased staffing levels and hours would be dictated by several established triggers, including: area growth, call volume, call type, response time, budget and the (Assembly Bill 8) adjustment outlined in the resolution of annexation.”
Latrobe’s part-time paid staff will keep their positions and the Latrobe chief, currently a volunteer position, is encouraged to stay on board through the transition process, according to the agreement. The El Dorado Hills Fire Department will use Latrobe’s volunteer firefighters and also retain a Latrobe volunteer captain.
To read the El Dorado Hills Fire Department/Latrobe Fire Protection District Annexation Plan for Service visit edhfire.com and click on “Documents and Forms” under “Our Services.”