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Atherton study shows taxpayers pay more than twice what fire services cost

Original post made on Jan 11, 2018

A study of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District commissioned by Atherton shows that the district spends less than half the property tax revenues it receives from Atherton property owners providing services in the town.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 11, 2018, 3:42 PM

Comments (41)

45 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 11, 2018 at 4:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


The study states:

"The options for providing services independent of the District include formation of a stand-alone fire department within the Town and contracting for services with another entity. In either instance, the Town would continue to be a part of mutual aid and response programs such that fire service agencies respond across jurisdictional boundaries where necessary.”

1 - "formation of a stand-alone fire department within the Town and contracting for services with another entity.”

Such actions would require LAFCO approval and that would certainly be challenged and then subject to approval by the voters. With a 98.5% approval rating of the Fire District’s services by the residents whom it serves it would seem highly unlikely that those residents would support such actions.

2 - Mutual aid is just that - mutual; it is not required by law but rather by mutual agreement among the participants.

There is no reason to believe that the residents of East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and unincorporated San Mateo County would support their Fire District providing mutual aid to an entity that had significantly reduced their service levels by a selfish and self-serving diversion of property tax revenues from the Fire District to the Town.

*****


The residents of the Town of Atherton, of whom I am one, gladly pay more for national defense, State, County, school districts, etc. than we receive in direct benefits from any of those entities. Doing so is an integral part of our being part of a larger community and not a self-serving 1 percent. The same, I believe, is true of our support for community wide fire services.


9 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 11, 2018 at 7:49 pm

Did the study actually break down every dollar spent by Menlo Fire for each service provided such as fire prevention, emergency preparedness, and public education? Some times those costs are such that it's difficult to quantify the actual amount or it's blended for the entire district. Remember Menlo Fire is a district not a joint powers authority.

When the trend in SMCO seems to be for fire agencies to consolidate -- such as the recent San Mateo, Foster City and Belmont Fire Departments into San Mateo Consolidate Fire, having Atherton going the other direction seems counterproductive.

Who's stirring the pot this time when it Atherton is getting quality fire and emergency service. If the town wants to look at cost savings, what about contracting its police and/or dispatching services.


16 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2018 at 7:49 am

Atherton:
Just plain GREED!

Why fix something that is not broken. Upset the other communities that form the fire district and jeporize their services because Atherton feels they’re not getting their money’s worth. Oh, jeporize the good Atherton citizens too. A fire agency that has a 98.5% approval rating and is recognized throughout the country.

Atherton council and the worthless town manager, get your act together in your own backyard:

Lost your parcel tax vote
Has a police agency that takes 75% of your budget, and turn it over to the sheriff.

The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 12, 2018 at 8:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Nothing in the proposed alternatives would reduce the property taxes of Atherton residents by a single penny but would simply gift the Fire District’s portion of those taxes to the cash starved Town of Atherton.

The Town in turn would use only a portion of those funds for fire services and would use the rest to address its self-induced cash flow problem. BTW this is a Town whose own residents just refused to increase the parcel taxes that they pay to their own Town government.

Any “savings” would come from reducing the Fire District’s service levels to the residents of East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County who are served by the Fire District - a true Robin Hood in Reverse strategy of taking property tax revenues from the poorer residents to give to the Town government of the richest residents.


54 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 12, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Menlo Park should commission a similar study and look at working with Atherton on fixing the problem. With the exorbitant OT that MPFPD is allowing along with their recent expenditures they need to be reined in. It is easy to balance a budget when you are getting a lot more than you actually need.


6 people like this
Posted by Mano
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Just be aware that just because you bring things in-house, doesn't automatically mean, you'll save money. Like the article said, there's a large start up cost to get the equipment and man power going, but there are on-going costs to it like salaries and pension contributions. How long with the 7 million savings last? 5 years? 10 years? Then you'll be in the hole again after that and there's no way to recoup those savings.


59 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 12, 2018 at 3:29 pm

".....Atherton, which has 8 percent of the residents in the fire district, provided 31.7 percent of the fire district's total revenue generated by property taxes....."

Why is this equitable for Atherton tax payers?


27 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 12, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Property taxes, particularly since Prop 13, were never designed to be equitable.

What is equitable would be for everyone in the Fire District to be getting the same level of service.

Based solely on the data in the Matrix report the Fire District spends an average of $414 per resident.

Based solely on the data in the Matrix report the Fire District spends $4,613,920 for 7,200 Atherton residents or $640 per Atherton resident.

Based solely on the data in the Matrix report that leaves $32,646, 843 for the Fire District’s other 82,800 residents or $398 per East Palo Alto, Menlo Park or unincorporated San Mateo County resident.

Is it equitable that the Fire District spends 60% more per resident for services to Atherton residents than it does (according to this study) for services to the other residents of the Fire District?

Is that the result that the Town Council intended when it caused approximately $80,000 (50k for contract, 10k for Atherton staff time and 20k for Fire District staff time) to be spent on this study?


19 people like this
Posted by Woodside fire
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2018 at 8:01 pm

I love the idea of putting fire service up for competitive bid.

Even if Woodside fire or Redwood City fire cost 8 million, Atherton taxpayers come out way ahead by virtue of getting the same service at a lower price and freei g up capital for better drainage and better services.

It's a no-brainer to contract out fire. It works for for San Carlos and Portola valley.


5 people like this
Posted by Harold Schapelhouman, Fire Chief
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 12, 2018 at 8:42 pm

In response to an inquiry, or official comment request, from the Fire District:

To Barbara Wood Almanac Reporter - From Fire Chief Schapelhouman


In regards to the Matrix report, which we just received mid-day yesterday (Thursday):

You wrote “My editor especially would like to know if the district believes it's OK that Atherton taxpayers foot so much of the district's bill; and if so, why?”

My response to both you and your editor is why would the Almanac assume that (taxpayers foot so much of the district's bill) to be correct, without allowing the Fire District adequate time to review and formally respond to this 100 plus page report that has taken many, many months to prepare?

The Fire District fully cooperated with representatives from Matrix and responsibly provided them with not only copious amounts of information but face to face meeting time and follow-up opportunities for clarification. We asked that the ‘findings’ be shared with the Fire District prior to being formally released, but the Town decided not to offer us that courtesy and it looks like I received the report from the Town Manager three minutes before it was publicly distributed.

The expectation that we would be able to respond to these findings without our own in-depth analysis, discussion and engagement with the Fire Board, is simply unreasonable. As you know, it is the Fire Board that is elected at large by the citizens we serve within the entire Fire District and it is the Fire Board that has the actual legal authority and responsibility over emergency services provided to our residents, who also happen to live within the boundaries of the Town of Atherton.

The Fire District takes these findings, assumptions and allegations very seriously! As Fire Board President Bernstein has already commented to you, “I doubt that I would have any comment before the end of next week, after we know what the Town Council intends to do”. The Regular Fire Board meeting is next week on Tuesday evening and then the Atherton Town Council meets the next day on Wednesday and has a scheduled presentation by Matrix regarding this report on their agenda.

I have now distributed the Matrix report to the Fire Board, my staff, legal counsel and our consultant, who last provided the Fire District with an updated “Standards of Cover” assessment, which showed that five of the Fire Districts seven Fire Stations directly respond into areas also included inside the Town of Atherton. Those stations are fully staffed by our dedicated employees working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.

As I emphasized at our joint Town Council – Fire Board meeting in December 2017, that network of five Stations directly responding into our service areas also located inside the Town of Atherton, along with the Town’s open network of streets, a number of which are designated as primary emergency response routes by the Fire District, is why residents inside the Town of Atherton have some of the best and fastest emergency response times in the Fire District. That is obviously mission critical when anyone calls and needs our help and/or emergency assistance which requires the protection of life, property and the environment.


Harold Schapelhouman, Fire Chief
Menlo Park Fire Protection District


23 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 12, 2018 at 9:09 pm

As Mr. Carpenter wrote, the process to disengage the area of Atherton from the fire district would involve LAFCO. I very much doubt that that agency would favor such a move. Atherton citizens would have to provide a substantial reason for that to go forward. I don't really envision that happening.

Town officials should really worry about managing their own budget instead of the fire district's. But I think they refer to this tactic as transference or deflecting.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 13, 2018 at 6:24 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I am still waiting for a reply to this enquiry to the Town Council:

From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: Fiscal Responsibility
Date: April 28, 2017 at 3:59:30 PM CDT
To: Atherton Town Council

Dear Council,

Now that you have embarked on your quest for fiscal responsibility, of others that is, when do you intend to address these big ‘losers’ for Atherton residents:

1 - the school districts - for which I estimate Atherton residents receive about 30 cents of services on their school district tax dollars?

2 - the Federal government - for which I estimate Atherton residents receive about 20 cents of services on their Federal tax dollars?

3 - the San Mateo County Harbor District - for which I estimate Atherton residents receive less than 10 cents of services on their property tax dollars?



75 people like this
Posted by Woodside fire
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2018 at 10:28 am

Peter Carpenter wrote:

'[what about] school districts'...
'[what about] the Federal government'...
'[what about] the San Mateo County Harbor District'...

Whataboutism: is a defensive propaganda technique used to counter criticism by attempting to discredit an opponent's position by citing similar examples without directly refuting or disproving their argument.

Whataboutism is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy.

#whataboutism


54 people like this
Posted by PeterDribble
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 13, 2018 at 10:41 am

@ Woodside fire, fully agree.

Classic Peter Carpenter tactic. In fact he uses this style of response on any topic when he can't fully explain or defend his position.

Thanks for calling it out.


29 people like this
Posted by Woodside fire
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2018 at 10:42 am

'I am still waiting for a reply to this enquiry to the Town Council'

Logical fallacies are difficult to respond to, I can see how you may not have been given a reply.


37 people like this
Posted by Fiduciary
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 13, 2018 at 11:21 am

I don't live in Atherton, but they'd have been foolish not to ask the questions they did.

It is constantly being pointed out that we have one of the best fire districts in the state. Maybe in the nation. That is something to be proud of. But is it necessary? Would having the best fire department be a priority for voters if asked to rank various services? If I were given this survey, I would want a well trained and well resourced fire department that meets the needs of the community. Having a fire department in the top 1% would not be my priority.

Life is tradeoffs. With the fire department, the tradeoff should not be between being the top 1% or a middling service that can't meet the broader needs of the greater community, including east of 101. The proper tradeoff should be between having the top 1% or an appropriate level of service to safely meet the needs of the community.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 13, 2018 at 11:57 am

It helps to actual read the Matrix report:
“As a result, on this basis, contracting may not be as viable an option.”

Also note that Stanford, a much better financed institution, did not receive a single response to its RFP for providing fire services.


32 people like this
Posted by Be great Atherton
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 14, 2018 at 6:39 pm

This is an opportunity to be great instead of stingy. Most Athertonians probably pay far less proprtionately of their income and assets than others for the infrasructure and services we all enjoy.
“To whom much is given, much is expected”.


20 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 15, 2018 at 9:31 am

Brian is a registered user.

Peter,

Typocal arguments and misdirections. Address the issues within the MPFPD, of which there are many. You only have to look at the articles in the Almanac and other local papers to see that there are serious problems that need to be addressed. You personally are responsible for many of them and while you argue that they are not problems or not your fault the readers know otherwise. I don't blame Atherton for looking into their costs and exploring their options, infact I think Menlo Park should do the same. Too much money is flowing into your coffers and you are not spending it wisely.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 9:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Brian - The Fire Board would welcome your specific suggestions as to how costs can be reduced without lowering the level of service.

Here are the budgets and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports:

Web Link

And here is the contact information for the individual Fire Board members:

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Here's what's going on
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 15, 2018 at 10:37 am

Smart money is on Atherton purposely doing this so PC stops questioning the town's out-of-control expenses for its own police department. They've had the same excuse: "service levels will suffer."

This is definitely "through the looking glass". Now Atherton is a fiscal hawk? Start with the PD!


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 11:03 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Perhaps someone would like to update my 2013 survey on the costs of police services:

Cost comparison 2013

Agencies which have their own Police Department:

Atherton
As of the census of 2010, there were
6,914 people
4.9 square miles (12.8 km²)
Police budget $5.6 M in 2012/13
$810 per capita

Redwood City
As of the census[1] of 2008, there were
75,508 people
34.6 sq miles
Police budget $31.7 M
$419 per capita

Palo Alto
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,598
people
23.7 sq miles
Police budget $29M
$494 per capita

Foster City
As of the census of 2000, there are 28,803
people
The city has a total area of 19.9 square
miles (51.6 km²), of which 3.8 square miles
(9.7 km²) is land and 16.2 square miles
(41.9 km²) is water.
Police budget $9.6 M
$333 per capita

Burlingame
As of the census of 2000, there were 28,158
people
The city has a total area of 15.6 km² (6.0 mi²).
11.2 km² (4.3 mi²) of it is land and 4.4 km²
(1.7 mi²) of it (28.19%) is water.
Police budget $9.5M
$337 per capita

Hillsborough
As of the census[5] of 2000, there were
10,825 people
The town has a total area of 6.2 square miles
(16.1 km²), all of it land.
Police budget $8M
$739 per capita

Los Altos
The population was 27,693 according to the
2000 census.
6.3 square miles (16.4 km²).
Police dept budget $13.46 M
$485 per capita

Menlo Park
As of the census of 2010, there were
32,026 people
17.4 square miles (45 km2), of which
10.1 square miles (26 km2) is land
and 7.3 square miles (19 km2) is water. Police services budget $14.95M
$466.80 per capita

East Palo Alto
As of the census of 2009, there were 35,791 people,
2.6 square miles (6.7 km²), of which 2.5 square miles (6.6 km²) are land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.78%) are water.
Police budget $10,262,651
$287 per capita

Agencies which contract out their police services:

Saratoga
The population was 30,318 at the 2007 census.
The city has a total area of 21.1 square miles
(31.4 km²)
Police costs via County Sheriff $4.34 M
$143 per capita

Woodside
11.8 square miles (30.5 km²)
As of the census of 2010, there were
5,287 people
Police services via County Sheriff $1.45 M
$274 per capita
new contract 2012/13
The Woodside Town Council approved a budget that included ■ Sheriff's contract: A council majority approved a three-year $1.45 million law enforcement contract with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. Unlike the annual jumps of 10 percent in previous contracts, this one rises by 4 percent for the first year and 3 percent after that.


Portola Valley
The population was 4,462 at the 2000 census
9.2 square miles (23.7 km²)
Police services via Sheriff $498,601
$111 per capita

San Carlos
The population was 27.238 in 2008
5.93 square miles
Police services via proposed Sheriff's contract
$6.8 M
$248.62 per capita


Contra Costa County

Excerpt of FY 2011-12 Law Enforcement Comparison Survey – Cost Per Resident
Municipality Cost Per Resident
Moraga $137.44
Lafayette $171.57
Danville $188.33
Oakley $214.50
Orinda $227.25









15 people like this
Posted by Woodside fire
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2018 at 1:05 pm

'[what about Atherton] police services'

Whataboutism: is a defensive propaganda technique used to counter criticism by attempting to discredit an opponent's position by citing similar examples without directly refuting or disproving their argument.

Whataboutism is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy.

#whataboutism


4 people like this
Posted by John Oliver
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 15, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Here's a good primer on #WhatAboutIsm

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Woodside - The Fire Board would welcome your specific suggestions as to how costs can be reduced without lowering the level of service.

Here are the budgets and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports:

Web Link

And here is the contact information for the individual Fire Board members:

Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Yea, but what about...
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 15, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Yea, but what about... is a registered user.

Yea, but what about the cost of fire services compared to police services in the local community:

Cost per capita for fire services in Menlo Fire in 2017 - $600 Cost per capita in Redwood City - $308

Cost per call for Menlo Fire in 2017 - $6,352 Cost per call for Redwood City $3,236

Compare these metrics for any fire protection department in California and I defy you to find one higher than Menlo Fire.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The only way to reduce the cost of fire services while actually increasing service levels is wide area consolidation - which your Fire Board is on record of supporting:

RESOLUTION OF THE MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT BOARD
REQUESTING THAT THE SAN MATEO COUNTY LOCAL AGENCY FORMATION
COMMISSION (LAFCo) PERFORM A COUNTY-WIDE MUNICIPAL SERVICE
REVIEW OF FIRE AGENCIES WITHIN SAN MATEO COUNTY
WHEREAS, the District believes that consolidation of fire and emergency medical
services agencies allows for the greatest opportunity to provide efficient and quality life-saving
services; and
WHEREAS, any action resulting in fragmentation of fire and emergency medical
services agencies within the County of San Mateo would result in increased costs and a decrease
in the quality of services; and
WHEREAS, fire districts, including the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, provide a
myriad of services to the community in addition to basic fire and emergency services, including
but not limited to, disaster preparedness, public education, code promulgation, and inspections;
and
WHEREAS, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District has been a long time leader in the
consolidation of fire dispatch services and has successfully and significantly reduced response
times in recent years; and
WHEREAS , consolidation of services allows for economies of scale, permitting
exemplary levels of cost-efficient service; and
WHEREAS, any attempt to replicate this level of services in individual San Mateo
County municipalities would be imprudent and ineffective, as such effort could not facilitate
economies of scale, resulting and in higher costs and inefficiencies; and
WHEREAS, special districts, including the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, have
the unique distinction and capability of being well managed and economically healthy, primarily
due to not being subservient to municipal government.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Board of Directors of the Menlo Park
Fire Protection District hereby direct that correspondence be transmitted by the Fire Chief, on
behalf of the District, to the San Mateo LAFCo, requesting that the San Mateo LAFCo perform a
county-wide municipal service review to evaluate fire agencies within San Mateo County.


Here are two great examples of such wide area consolidations:

Orange County Fire

The Orange County Fire Authority is a regional fire service agency that serves 22 cities in Orange County and all unincorporated areas. The OCFA protects over 1,400,000 residents from its 61 fire stations located throughout Orange County. OCFA Reserve Firefighters work 10 stations throughout Orange County.

$263,952,650 (09/10)
$188 per capita


SacMetro
Serves nearly 640,000 citizens over a 417-square-mile area, serving Sacramento & Placer counties including the City of Citrus Heights and the City of Rancho Cordova.

Historically, Metro Fire represents 16 former fire agencies, some of which were founded more than six decades ago. Today, Metro Fire is the seventh-largest fire district in California with 42 strategically located fire stations.
$148,269,642 total expenses
= $231 per capita


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Compare these metrics for any fire protection department in California and I defy you to find one higher than Menlo Fire."


Easy - Woodside Fire has a budget of $16,660,797 and serves about 17,000 people for a per capita cost of $980 vs $411 for MPFPD


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm

From Atherton's $50k Matrix study - the Potential Annual Operating Costs for a Municipal Fire Department – $6.8 million for 7200 residents which equals a per capita cost of $944 vs MPFPD's per capita cost of $411.

As stated, the best and only way to reduce per capita cost of fire services id to have wide area consolidation.


7 people like this
Posted by Yea, but what about...
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 15, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Yea, but what about... is a registered user.

Yea, but the Woodside Fire District 2017/18 budget is $16.6 million and it reportedly serves a population base of more than 25,000, a per capita cost of $666, not $980.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


OK - Woodside's per capita is $666 vs $411 for MPFPD and $944 for the proposed Atherton Fire.

Scale is the issue - bigger is cheaper and can provide better services at that lower cost,


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A San Mateo County wide fire agency would serve about 800,000 people at an estimated per capita cost of about $250 with better services and better training facilities and better specialized units.


21 people like this
Posted by Yea, but what about...
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 15, 2018 at 3:37 pm

Yea, but what about... is a registered user.

Yea, but the Menlo Fire 2017 budget is $48.5 million with a service population of 90,000. My math shows a per capita cost of $539. And, you'll get no argument from me that consolidation would result in lower cost and improved service. A go it alone Atherton Fire Department is not the way to go considering cost or quality of service.


9 people like this
Posted by maximusgolden
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 3:51 pm

If one looks at the insured property value (not the accessed value) rather than population, I think Athertonians possibly pay a smaller share than others in the fire district. There are many ways to analyze the proper level of fire protection spending. It is reasonable to ask whether the overall amount that is spent on emergency services is excessive relative to other community services such as schools and policing. From an uninformed perspective, the fire district seems to have plenty of money to meet all of its needs.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are updated figures that show the huge economies of scale in providing fire services:

Proposed Atherton Fire - 7200 people and a budget of $6.8 million gives a per capita cost of $944

Woodside Fire District - 25,000 population and a budget of $16.6 million population gives a per capita cost of $666

MPFPD - 90,000 people and $46,248,139 budget gives a per capita cost of $513

SacMetro - population of over 738,000 and $193 million budget gives a per capita cost of $261

Orange County Fire Authority - 1,680,000 residents and a budget of $366,691,527 $203 per capita gives a per capita cost of $203


6 people like this
Posted by Here's what's going on
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 15, 2018 at 4:33 pm

@Be great Atherton – no one gave me anything.

@Yea, but what about... – it is relevant, because it calls into contrast what the town's priorities should be.

One thing that no one is bringing up is that the fire department provides emergency medical services. When police outsourcing has come up, supporters of Atherton's own police department talk about response times and how essential they are. EMS response times are more essential.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 15, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In 2016 49% of the MPFPD responses to an Atherton location were medical calls.

Every MPFPD apparatus has at least two medical qualified (EMT or Paramedic) firefighters. MPFPD currently
has 44 licensed paramedics and 44 certified EMTs out of 97 firefighters - one of the highest % in the nation.

As noted in the Matrix report "the performance of the call processing and travel time
performance of the MPFPD exceed industry best practices in terms of performance at
the 90th percentile."


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Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 16, 2018 at 12:19 pm

A question possibly for Peter above: Is there a way to cost-out or otherwise compare the value and cost of fire district mutual aid, especially given the string of CA catastrophes over the last year?


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 17, 2018 at 7:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Automatic aid to adjacent communities is provided on a no-cost reciprocal basis and seldom last more than a few hours.

California OES, US Forest Service and FEMA deployments, many lasting weeks at a time, are done on a fully reimbursed basis including the cost of backfilling any deployed firefighters and hence at no cost to the Fire District. The experience gained in such deployments is priceless since it could not be otherwise be obtained except through very costly and almost impossible to stage local training exercises.


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Posted by HLipton
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 17, 2018 at 7:15 am

$80,000 50k for contract, 10k in Atherton staff time and 20k for Fire District staff time seems a lot of money as they above.

Let the community get involved to find an answer

Hope it works out.

HL


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2018 at 9:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the proposal to detach from a regional fire district is unprecedented "

From: Martha Poyatos <mpoyatos@smcgov.org>
Date: February 9, 2018 at 3:20:27 PM PST

Subject: RE: Atherton considering withdrawing from Menlo Park Fire District


Hi Allan;

Below I have copied and pasted your questions and include my responses:

Please explain the process for how detachment would be done.
The process for the Town of Atherton to detach from Menlo Park Fire Protection District (MPFPD) and either form a stand-alone department or contract with another fire agency would start with the Town adopting a resolution of application to LAFCo to amend the MPFPD sphere of influence and detach from the District. The application would include the resolution, application, plan for providing service, indemnification form and LAFCo fees.

The basic process is:
1) Town adopts resolution of application referenced above and submits it with application, plan for providing service, indemnification and fees to San Mateo Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo). The Commission has the authority to approve, approve with modifications, modify or deny applications.
2) LAFCo staff processes the application by referring it to affected county departments (assessor, elections, etc.) and agencies (Town of Atherton, MPFPD, affected cities)
3) LAFCo application triggers a letter from the Controller to the County and the Town initiating a 60 day property tax negotiation period. (Both the Board of Supervisors and Town Council must adopt property tax resolutions before LAFCo can schedule the application for hearing)
4) Once the application is deemed complete including adopted resolutions of tax exchange, LAFCo can schedule a noticed public hearing.
5) At the hearing, the Commission has the authority to approve, approve with modifications or conditions or deny the application.
6) If approved, LAFCo would be required to hold a protest hearing at which registered voters can submit written protest. If 50% or more of the voters submit protest, the detachment is terminated. If less than 25% of the registered voters in the Town submit protest, LAFCo orders the detachment. If 25% or more of the registered voters but less than 50% submit written protest, the detachment is subject to an election at which a majority of the Atherton registered voters must vote in favor of the detachment.
7) If approved by lack of protest or by majority vote at an election, LAFCo would finalize the detachment once all conditions are met. Conditions could include an executed contract with another fire agency, acquisition of station, apparatus or other actions.

Who gets to decide?
The Commission has the discretion to approve, approve with conditions or deny and must consider a set of mandated factors including:
The effect of the proposed action and of alternative actions, on adjacent areas, on mutual social and economic interests, and on the local governmental structure of the county; The ability of the newly formed or receiving entity to provide the services which are the subject of the application to the area, including the sufficiency of revenues for those services following the proposed boundary change;
Comments of affected agencies and individuals.

If approved by the Commission registered voters in the Town of Atherton have the opportunity for protest and possibly voting in an election as noted above.

How are assets and liabilities divided?
Detachment does not affect ownership of District owned assets such as stations and apparatus. LAFCo consideration in review of the proposal would include fiscal impact to MPFPD in regard to liabilities related to staff and facilities located in Atherton and loss of property tax revenue and the fiscal viability of a stand-alone department.

How does the Town receive the “fire protection” share of property taxes going forward?

The property tax transfer is a discretionary negotiation set forth in Revenue and Taxation Code. In boundary changes that involve independent special districts, the Board of Supervisors would negotiate with the Town on behalf of the special district (after providing notice to the District and providing the District opportunity to comment). In the case of a detachment, it is not clear that all of the fire district’s property tax share would be transferred to only the Town or if some would go to other agencies (school districts, health care district, county, etc.) that also overlap with MPFPD.

How long might the change take?

Without an election an estimate of the timeline is 5 to 8 months. With an election an estimate is 15 to 24 months based on election law time frames.

Please keep in mind that the proposal to detach from a regional fire district is unprecedented and in processing an actual application other issues may arise that I have not addressed here or that were not addressed in the Fire Services Fiscal Review commissioned by the Town.

Thank you for your patience in waiting for my response to your e-mail.

Martha

Martha Poyatos
Executive Officer


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