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Arroyo Grande to consider leaving Five Cities Fire Authority

Posted at 3:24 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 21:17:51-05

Arroyo Grande city leaders will discuss at Tuesday night’s city council meeting whether to leave the Five Cities Fire Authority and form their own fire department.

Budgeting issues have city leaders debating how the authority should be funded or if it should just be disbanded.

The Five Cities Fire Authority was formed in 2010 to provide a cost-effective and efficient fire department to serve Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, and Oceano.

Currently, Arroyo Grande pays for 47 percent of the authority’s expenses, Grover Beach pays 34 percent, and the Oceano Community Services District pays 19 percent.

This equated to about $2.5 million for A.G. in 2018.

Fire Chief Steve Lieberman says the move could be problematic for the entire community, potentially impacting response times.

“If we went our separate ways, we would have to rely on each other for automatic aid agreements. They’re not guarantees like today you get seamless response of three units,” Lieberman said.

The three cities have until April 1 to come up with an agreement to continue to divvy up the expenses. If unsuccessful, a Memorandum of Understanding states any of the cities could leave the authority.

Chief Lieberman says if Arroyo Grande exits, theoretically, it could dissolve the entire organization.

The City of Grover Beach is set to talk about the issue during its next meeting on March 4. The Oceano CSD will talk about it on March 13.