Four Brentwood councilmembers currently serve on the nine-person ECCFPD board, along with three councilmembers from Oakley and two from the unincorporated areas of the 250-square-mile district. Brentwood’s decision is similar to that made by Oakley earlier this month, when that city decided to replace two of its representatives with appointments from its citizenry.
Appointed in 2010, the current ECCFPD board has intended all along to shift to an elected board as soon as possible, Brentwood Councilman Bob Brockman said at Tuesday’s Brentwood Council meting. To do so, however, would run about $300,000 in election costs, money the cash-strapped fire district cannot afford, he said.
The district also cannot afford to lose all of its current members, said Mayor Bob Taylor.
“We don’t want to start over,” he said. “We have some pretty seasoned members on that fire board.”
Councilman Bob Brockman agreed with the need to begin the process, but wanted to wait until after the November elections, since changes that could result from City Council contests might impact the pool of applicants. Winners of the council races might want to serve on the fire board, or at least offer input on who gets appointed. Council members who are voted off city councils might also wish to apply for a fire seat once their responsibilities to their city end.
The changes at the ECCFPD come in the wake of the failure of Measure S fire tax last month. The loss forced ECCFPD to slash its service, closing three of its six stations and laying off 15 firefighters. Taylor wants Brentwood residents to know that the planned departure of City Council members from the fire board did not amount to bailing out of a difficult situation.
“Your council is not walking away,” he said, adding that the council should take the time needed to assure that well-qualified people are appointed.
The council instructed city staff to begin preparing the application process, with the goal of appointing at least two and a maximum of three board members, depending on the applicant pool. The appointments would be for one year, while a staggered-term process similar to City Council seats is worked out to guide future changes on the fire board.
The application deadline for Brentwood will be in mid-November, with the goal of seating the new representatives at the ECCFPD’s January meeting. As only one council meeting is scheduled in November and one in December, however, it could be February before the new Brentwood representatives take their seats at the helm of the ECCFPD.