Hollister council pauses on fire-response fees

Crews prepare to put the girl on a stretcher for transport.

Hollister council members Monday put off moving forward on a previously approved ordinance creating new fire-response fees due to proposed changes in the language.
Council members Monday voted 3-2 to table an official consideration on the ordinance, which was on Monday’s agenda, and revisit the matter May 18.
City Manager Bill Avera said he would likely ask council members to dissolve the ordinance language OK’d two weeks ago and consider a new ordinance presented in two weeks.
In late April, council members Monday approved an ordinance to establish fees charged to residents for some fire department responses.
Council members Mickie Luna and Ray Friend joined Mayor Ignacio Velazquez in initially approving the ordinance. Council members Victor Gomez and Karson Klauer dissented.
The ordinance would allow the city to collect fees for actual costs involved with responses, although Avera clarified to the Free Lance that residents would incur charges only in cases involving negligence. Avera wanted to stress that the city would not charge for medical calls.
The purpose behind the ordinance is to offset some of the costs for responses using a revenue generator that Avera referred to as “relatively new” in government circles.
With an approval, the city would hire a consultant to manage the billing that would take a 20 percent cut from the new revenue source. The city manager was unsure how much money the fees might generate at a time when Hollister has experienced a spike in overtime costs for the police and fire departments. An agenda report on the matter notes that fire department response activity continues to increase year after year.
The proposed fees are broken down by response categories that include motor vehicle incidents, hazardous materials, false alarms, fire investigations, fires, water incidents and the fire chief’s involvement.
The most common “billing level” expected would be for a hazardous materials assessment at motor vehicle accidents, with a “Level 1” cost of $435 up to a “Level 5” response involving a helicopter, with a charge of $2,200.
Look back for more.

Leave your comments