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Sharing the Services

Along with the other members of the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, I recently attended a joint meeting with all area fire districts, community service districts, and the City of Sonora.

We came to hear a presentation on the county’s fire and first responder system.

With so many people in the room, you would think there would be noisy debate. It didn’t happen. People were largely silent. There were a few small eruptions by individuals who supported the recommendations of the study, or dismissed them as impractical. The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors (which was still in session from the morning), went ahead and voted to participate in a working group charged with developing a plan for a single countywide fire joint powers agreement (JPA).

Only the Board of Supervisors cast a vote that evening. People from other jurisdictions said they would go back and check with their fellow elected officials to see what their feelings were about a shared service plan that could lead to a new organization called “The Tuolumne County Fire Authority.”

In my mind, this event falls into the “stay tuned” category. A number of years ago an idea to consolidate all the school districts in the County gained some momentum but lost it when the people spoke in opposition through the ballot. I wonder if this shared service idea will turn out the same way.

The Tuolumne County Fire Authority? Is this what the future holds in these days of desperate budgets, dwindling numbers of volunteers, and re-visiting basic premises such as, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”