BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS

TRUCKEE MEADOWS FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

SIERRA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

 

TUESDAY 5:00 p.m. JUNE 17, 2014

 

14-95F AGENDA ITEM 9

 

Agenda Subject: "Discussion and possible action on Amended Cooperative Agreement between Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and Storey County to provide for cooperative use of fire protection capital assets and automatic aid service; and possible adoption of a resolution to change the boundary line between Washoe and Storey Counties in the area of the Truckee River and the Tahoe Reno Industrial Park authorized by SB 272 of the 2013 Nevada Legislature and as described in Section 1.5 of the bill."

 

John Slaughter, County Manager, said this item would implement Section 1.5 of SB 272 of the 2013 Nevada Legislature, specifically changing the boundary line between Washoe and Storey Counties in the area of the Truckee River and the Tahoe- Reno Industrial Center (TRI). It would also amend the current Cooperative Agreement

between the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD) and the Storey County Fire Protection District (SCFPD) to provide, among other items that the SCFPD would provide, automatic aid assistance in an area of Washoe County within the East Truckee Canyon from the Vista Exit off I-80 on the west to the Lyon County boundary line on the east, and including all areas of Wadsworth within the TMFPD territory. He noted that SB 272 had a separate provision for a boundary line change for an area known as Sunny Hills, but this agenda item did not include that particular boundary line change.

 

Mr. Slaughter said there had been 10 boundary line changes previously in the County since 1861 with most being initiated by the Legislature. He said this boundary line change only became effective upon the final agreement of both Washoe and Storey County Commissions. He said the property owners supported the boundary line change and, if approved, intended to develop the area with all necessary approvals of Storey County as a part of the TRI. He indicated that the TRI was a 167 square mile industrial center with many improvements currently in place. He indicated that Washoe County currently had no plans or infrastructure within the area.

 

Mr. Slaughter commented that initial discussions had occurred with Storey County officials over the concept of sharing property tax or other revenue, but after review by legal staff it was determined that such an agreement for revenue sharing had no legal basis in statute. Subsequent discussions with Storey County and TRI representatives determined that Cooperative and Interlocal Agreements between Storey and Washoe Counties, whereby Storey County provided certain primary public safety services, would benefit the citizens and taxpayers of Washoe County and their districts. He said the proposed amended Cooperative Agreement would include the following:

 

Special Service Territory Storey County would provide automatic aid assistance, including Advanced Life Support (ALS) to the TMFPD in an area of Washoe County within the East Truckee Canyon from the Vista Exit off I-80 on the west, to the Lyon County boundary line on the east, including all areas of Wadsworth within the TMFPD territory.

 

Future Joint Staffing of Fire Station Storey County's Fire Station No. 75, located within the TRI had a capacity to be jointly staffed in the future by personnel of the SCFPD and the TMFPD. Joint staffing would delay or eliminate the need for the TMFPD to build a fire station and would reduce operating costs for the TMFPD to provide service to the area. No decision to jointly staff the station was implied; further, the decision to provide TMFPD personnel to Storey County's Station No. 75 for the purpose of joint staffing was entirely TMFPD's decision.

 

Communications Storey County would provide the necessary equipment and facilities to improve communications between Storey County Fire and the TMFPD. Such equipment was intended to facilitate communications within and along the I-80 corridor. The additional equipment would be provided by Storey County at no cost to the TMFPD, including all ongoing operational costs.

 

Mr. Slaughter said the area currently generated property tax revenue of approximately $27,455 per year with about $1,500 sent to the State. He said the TMFPD collected about $4,500, Washoe County collected about $12,000 and the Washoe County School District collected about $9,600. If the area was moved out of Washoe County, he said those property taxes would no longer be collected by Washoe County.

 

Commissioner Berkbigler asked if there were any Washoe County residents living in that area. Mr. Slaughter replied there were two homes in the area that were part of the McCarran Ranch, and he believed there was a caretaker that lived on the property.

 

Chairman Humke said there was a reference from a Senate Government Affairs hearing in 2013 about a Municipal Services Center including facilities for police and fire services. He asked if there was a law enforcement agreement envisioned for the future. Mr. Slaughter explained that law enforcement coverage already occurred on an asneeded basis.

 

Commissioner Hartung saw this as two distinct items, amending the Cooperative Agreement, and the adoption of the resolution for the boundary line adjustment. He said the Board had been under the impression there would be a revenue sharing of approximately $600,000 per year. He felt the way this was put together was not the way it had first been portrayed to the Board. He inquired on the numbers of fire calls for the area in the East Truckee Canyon and the I-80 corridor and understood that EMSA was supposed to cover those medical calls.

 

TMFPD Fire Chief Charles Moore distributed a data sheet of the incidents along the I-80 corridor, which was placed on file with the Clerk. He reviewed the statistics for the year-to-date responses to that area.

 

Commissioner Hartung suggested having the revenue sharing option for the County.

 

Chairman Humke said there were two parts to Commissioner Hartung's question, the revenue sharing agreement, and the replacement provision which was the provision of fire services. He questioned if there was a way to enter into a revenue sharing option.

 

Paul Lipparelli, Legal Counsel, commented that Dillon's Rule noted that, "counties could only do what the Legislature said what a county could do." He said the Legislature had not said that counties may make deals with one another to share property tax revenue. He reported there was no prohibition against that so the Board had to determine what could be done about the Legislative silence on the issue. If the Counties made an arrangement to have revenue sharing, it would work as long as both parties honored the agreement; however, if a future Storey County Commission began questioning the exporting of dollars to Washoe County, they could be advised to cease the agreement. He said the remedy would be for Washoe County to sue Storey County for performance of that arrangement and bring the issue to the forefront. He noted that interlocal agreements and Cooperative Agreements for exchanging services and providing services were enforceable and legal. Mr. Lipparelli concluded that he never reached the conclusion that it was strictly prohibited to engage in revenue sharing, but had advised it was an uncertain area and, once the resolution was adopted by both County Commissions, the boundary line would be changed.

 

Commissioner Hartung stated his support for the boundary line adjustment as long as revenue could be shared, but per legal advice, he said the County would have to return to the Legislature.

 

Commissioner Jung questioned if Storey County could begin making revenue payments to Washoe County, and then both County's staff would work together and bring to the Legislature a legal, binding contract. She suggested staff draw up the contracts to begin revenue sharing and then attend the Legislature to receive an approach to make an attorney comfortable if there would be any recourse.

 

Commissioner Weber originally believed that revenue would be shared; however, she felt that a fire station far exceeded any revenue that the County would receive. She did not agree that the County should return to the Legislature and felt this was a positive move for future services.

 

Commissioner Berkbigler asked if the County had any infrastructure on the opposite side of the highway. Mr. Slaughter understood that Washoe County did not have any infrastructure in that entire area. Commissioner Berkbigler said she supported transferring the land, and thought it was worthwhile and would benefit Washoe County. She understood the concerns about revenue sharing and if there was a way to amend the agreement for the possibility, she would stand at the will of the Board.

 

Chairman Humke inquired on a quantification of value that Washoe County would receive from Storey County's physical facilities such as the Fire Station. Mr. Slaughter replied there was not a dollar amount attached.

 

Chief Moore explained there were some costs that could be quantified, but others were intangible. He said an intangible cost savings occurred because the TMFPD was not responding all the way down the I-80 corridor and that the SCFPD could arrive first on-scene. He said the benefit to the TMFPD was that the apparatus from Hidden Valley would remain in station, which was a value that a dollar amount could not be placed.

 

Chairman Humke questioned if the SCFPD had a transport license for medical calls. He said REMSA sometimes did not respond in a timely manner to the Wadsworth area and other parts of Washoe County.

 

Commissioner Hartung suggested a cross agreement that included fire services since he felt the County in the future would be responsible to help staff the TRI Fire Station. He agreed that staff should review a revenue sharing option and the component of automatic and mutual aid if the arrangement for fire changed in the future, the revenue sharing still existed. He commented that the process could begin now and then staff could attend the 2015 Legislature with the agreement to be codified by the Legislature.

 

Mr. Slaughter clarified that the I-80 corridor was still in the current Franchise Agreement with REMSA and any transport in that area would be through mutual aid with REMSA being the primary responder. Secondly, he said there was nothing implied in the amended Cooperative Agreement that said a decision had been made to jointly staff TMFPD staff in the Storey County Station, but noted it would be the decision of the TMFPD.

 

Commissioner Weber stated there was value in having the Hidden Valley crew remain in the Hidden Valley Station and questioned the crew size on the SCFPD. Patrick Whitten, Storey County Manager, replied that the SCFPD staffed to an ALS response unit in those stations and were two-man crews. He explained that this began under the premise that as this property developed there could be revenue sharing potential, but legal staff determined it was not feasible under the current Legislation. He  acknowledged that his Board of County Commissioners and Board of Fire Commissioners had approved the boundary line adjustment and the amendment to the

Cooperative Agreement.

 

Commissioner Hartung appreciated having a station staffed in that area, but asked where the second engine would come from if needed. Chief Moore stated the second engine would come from the Hidden Valley Station. Commissioner Hartung questioned if staff could research a fire and revenue sharing process where the long-term ramifications were understood with a joint agreement.

 

Commissioner Weber asked if there was a total amount requested for revenue sharing and could that be weighed against the advantage of fire services. Mr. Slaughter said the point was never reached during discussions where an amount was quantified.

 

Commissioner Jung asked if there was a fire station requirement in the Industrial Park. Mr. Slaughter did not have the answer to that question.

 

Commissioner Berkbigler moved to amend the Cooperative Agreement between the TMFPD and Storey County to provide for cooperative use of fire protection capital assets and automatic aid service; and further moved to adopt a resolution to change the boundary lines between Washoe County and Storey County in the area of the Truckee River and the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Park authorized by SB 272 of the 2013 Nevada Legislature as described in Section 1.5 of the bill. Commissioner Weber seconded the motion.

 

Mr. Lipparelli said the motion was fine as made, but the TMFPD was not adopting a resolution to change the County boundary lines. He said the motion to adopt the resolution applied only to the Board of County Commissioners.

 

Commissioner Hartung asked if staff would be directed to review any revenue sharing options. Chairman Humke said the motion could be amended.

 

Commissioner Hartung amended the motion to include a revenue sharing option as well as the option for fire with the automatic aid agreement. Commissioner Jung seconded the amendment.

 

Mr. Lipparelli clarified when the Legislature approved the bill authorizing the boundary line change, it said the boundary line was changed when both boards of county commissioners adopted a resolution changing the boundary line. Once the resolution was adopted by Washoe County, he reiterated that the boundary line would be changed at that moment and would not be changed back if another contingency failed.

 

In response to the call for public comment, Jim Gubbels, REMSA President, said the mutual aid agreements were in place. He said the mutual aid agreements would be used on patients that were seriously injured or ill, and he would work with the Fire Chiefs in those areas to provide the best service.

 

Commissioner Berkbigler asked for clarification on the amended motion. She questioned if Washoe County staff was being requested to meet with Storey County staff and then bring back to the Board a potential revenue sharing agreement, but at the same time approving the boundary line change.

 

Chairman Humke said that was his understanding on the main motion and the amendment to the motion. Commissioner Berkbigler said since the original motion included the Cooperative Agreement between the TMFPD and the SCFPD that would also be placed into effect. She understood that the amended motion would have the two staff's working together and arrive at a potential revenue sharing that might be considered at a later date.

 

Chairman Humke clarified that the boundary line change would be effective immediately upon passing of the original motion. He said the amended motion was to negotiate a revenue sharing option.

 

Commissioner Hartung asked if there were any issues with Storey County having a revenue sharing process. Mr. Whitten said the concept of revenue sharing was brought to the Storey County Commission as a non-agendized staff report early in the process. He said Mr. Slaughter adequately stated that all the combined legal staffs indicated there were flaws in the current laws as written and would have to return to the Legislature. He commented that the SCFPD had a fully staffed ALS station at Exit 26 off  I-80 in the Lockwood/Rainbow Bend area. Commissioner Hartung asked why this was being rushed and suggested waiting until staff returned with the results of the revenue sharing discussion.

 

Chairman Humke proposed taking a vote on the motion to amend. On call for the question to amend the original motion and include staff's negotiating a revenue sharing option, the motion passed on a 3 to 2 vote with Commissioners Berkbigler and Weber voting "no."

 

On call for the question on the main motion, the motion passed on a 3 to 2 vote with Commissioners Weber and Hartung voting "no."

 

The Interlocal Agreement and Resolution are attached hereto and made a part of the minutes thereof.

 

 

 

[The Interlocal Agreement and Resolution are in the PDF version of the minutes: Click here.]