City Manager Donna Landeros this week said the final details are being hammered out on the make-up of a new board that will run the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District. A resolution approving the plan is expected to be before the Council at its meeting on Jan. 22.
The new district board will be made up of representatives from Brentwood, Oakley and the County Supervisor's office and be based on population. It will include either seven or nine members, depending on the outcome of talks between Oakley and the County, Landeros said. Under the nine-member format, she said, Brentwood would be allotted four seats - which will be filled by city council members - while Oakley will have three seats and the county two. If there are seven members, Brentwood would have three, while Oakley and the County would each have two.
"Either way, we're OK with it," Landeros said. "I think people will be much more comfort able with a board made up by local representatives instead of people who have no connection to the district."
The district is currently run by the Board of Supervisors in Martinez. Only District III Supervisor Mary Piepho, a resident of Discovery Bay, lives in the ECCFPD, but that district also includes the San Ramon corridor and could be represented by someone
from there in the future.
The ECCFPD provides fire service in all areas of the county east of Antioch.
Also this month, the contract of current ECCFPD Chief Bill Weisgerber will expire. The district announced last week that current Battalion Chief Hugh Henderson will be named as interim chief until the transition from the Supervisors to the new governance board is complete, which Landeros hopes will take place by April.
"I think Hugh Henderson will be good for the transition, and maybe even after," she said, citing Henderson's long history of service to East County as one of his qualifications.
City staff is now working on the details of actions that will be needed to transition power once the new governance board is in place. Operational aspects such as who will write district paychecks and arrange for workers compensation insurance could be contracted back to the county, or provided by outside vendors, she said.
Also at the top of the list for the new board will be interpreting the results of a poll that should be rolled out in the next couple of months. The poll will test whether there is public support in the district for an additional tax needed to increase revenues and bring operations closer to industry standards. Funded at the level of the volunteer district it used to be, the ECCFPD can only afford to provide two fire fighters per engine, and pay wages below those of other area districts.