Sonora, CA — Officials from the Tuolumne County Fire District say there isn´t enough money in the budget to continue the present level of fire service in the county.
Mike Noonan of the fire department says the $700,000 budget shortfall could begin with the closings of paid fire stations within the county referred to as Amador stations.
Those stations include Twain Harte, Sonora and Blanchard. Noonan says there will also be staff cuts of roughly 75% in the winter months.
Those staff cuts will be chiefly command and control personnel, which will hamper the department´s ability to investigate structure fires and prosecute fire-related crimes. Noonan says the cuts will take effect this fall at the closure of fire season.
He adds that the general cost of operation continues to rise as budget allocations remain the same. Noonan says there was no “fat” in the budget to cut, and the department is now “severing limbs.”
Noonan says the cuts will result in increased response times of paid fire fighting staff as well as a decrease in the level of services offered which could result in loss of property and life.
The county budget will be under consideration at this week´s meeting of the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors.