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Edited: Jul 22, 2021
What did the AP Triton "Annexation Feasibility Study" get wrong?
What did the AP Triton "Annexation Feasibility Study" get wrong?
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1. Based on RHFD packet page 15 under Recommendations titled “Recommendation 2: Municipal Services Review Update” and the full report Section III pages 165 through 168, this Feasibility Study is identified as a Municipal Services Review (MSR) report for LAFCO. This allows the annexation to go directly to LAFCO for review thus effectively bypassing public involvement and a public vote on the issue. Chair Hill said this is only a feasibility study and categorically denied this report was an MSR for LAFCO. It appears the LAFCO process is already in place. If the vote on September 8, 2021, by the RHFD Board to go forward with annexation is not passed, will the LAFCO process end for RHFD? If not, can the RHFD Board call for a public election on the issue? We know they can but will they?
2. Overall, there are benefits for firefighters, but I see no information in the AP Triton feasibility study that identifies a “Public Benefit” for Hercules & Rodeo residents and for the City of Hercules to go along with annexation. The report did not identify Hercules waterfront growth with accompanying property tax assessments and developer impact fees in the report’s current and 5-year projections. Why not? The report is incomplete and should be revised before any Board action is taken. Additionally, there was no mention of a 3rd station for RHFD, which will be needed as residential, retail and transit develops per Hercules master plan.
3. Why does RHFD need to be part of this joint annexation process? RHFD and ECCFPD service completely dissimilar areas. I can speculate that it’s the RHFD additional revenue derived from Measure O, the Benefit Assessment Districts, and growing property taxes due to Hercules growth and higher property assessments, which will be redistributed across the larger district to support annexing ECCFPD. When asked if RHFD needs to be part of the annexation for ECCFPD to be annexed, the AP Triton presenter clearly said “No”. ECCFPD can be annexed independently! So, if it’s not for financial reasons, why not wait 5 years for the next MRS window after ECCFPD has been annexed to see how it goes? Then decide if it’s a good idea.
4. There were no other options or alternatives (other than annexation) explored in the study. What are the potential other options? Could there be a merger between the Battalion 7 areas? That would be more feasible than leaving Pinole FD on an island by itself. There was no mention of Pinole FD in the study (“out of scope”), which is geographically connected to RHFD and Battalion 7. We need a larger, more detailed discussion on why Pinole FD isn’t included. Pinole and Hercules usually go hand in hand.
5. Determination of how Measure X revenue is allocated could have a large impact on annexation and promises made by CCCFPD to ECCFPD. What if Measure X monies do not come through? Measure X was not in scope for this report. Wouldn’t be a good idea to redo the report to include Measure X revenue and adjust the study accordingly?
6. At the most recent ECCFPD Board Meeting, a resolution was presented to Board members regarding annexation that included RHFD in the resolution. Why was this? Luckily, the resolution was sent back for revision. We’ll need to keep a close eye on the updated version. Will RHFD’s resolution include ECCFPD? Shouldn’t each district have its own resolution and not vote on behalf of the other district?
7. Packet page 28, second slide titled Enhancements, how will there be a reduction in insurance costs? If this is for the firefighters, then one needs to ask the question: what will insurance premiums be for residents? I can see rise in premiums for RHFD residents as liabilities are spread over the larger district?
8. Packet page 46, full report page 16, what items are included in “Charges for services” (Figure 8)? Also noted in subsequent figures with different name (e.g., page 18 Figure 10 “Services charge”). This is an increasing large recurring $11M revenue stream that appears for CCCFPD but is miniscule or non-existent for RHFD or ECCFPD. What services are being charged? Why isn’t RHFD and ECCFPD getting similar revenue?
9. Packet page 53, full report page 23, 44.3% of RHFD revenue budget is from Measure O and Benefit District. Primary revenue from ECCFPD and CCCFPD is from property taxes and “Charges for Services”, which is not explained in the charts in the report. There are zero “Charges for Services” since FY16/17 in the RHFD chart (Figure 14). What are they and why did they stop?
10. Packet pages 54 & 55, full report pages 24 & 25, the RHFD “Revenue Projections” at annual 4% revenue increase is a low estimate and should be more realistic considering the current and future property assessment in Hercules. This page gives credence to question 2 above. Why is AP Triton understating RHFD revenue?
11. Packet page 58, full report page 28, the RHFD Strategic Plan on hold since 2012, why? Waiting for the outcome of annexation? This just gives credence to the idea that the annexation discussion has been going on for a while and that it was a “done deal” from the beginning.
12. Packet page 59, full report page 29, Figure 18, the “Critical Issues” listed are according to Fire Chiefs, not the community. So, is community voice and involvement really being considered? Why is September a set date for a final vote on the resolution?
13. Packet page 61, full report page 31, Figure 19, there are no RHFD recent “Community surveys” – why not? This should have been done prior to study. Would have been very easy if the RHFD had “Social media accounts”, which they don’t. Don’t they want to receive input from the community?
14. Packet pages 96 & 242, full report pages 66 & 212, Rodeo Station 75 was completely rebuilt in 1991, not remodeled, which makes the average age 30 years instead of 57.
15. Packet page 112, full report page 82, Figure 74, “Response Workload” for RHFD is heavy in EMS and Other rather than Fire in all years. What is in the “Other” category? The Other category has been growing over time, surpassing EMS calls in 2018 onward. What are the implications of having more Other calls? Are responses counted multiple times when more than one agency responds to the same call?
16. Packet page 188, full report page 158, Figure 140, the chart does not show the OPEB and Retiree Health Insurance expenses for CCCFPD. Why not? Pension, OPEB and Retiree Health Insurance are huge liabilities for all three districts. Are there different collection and payback requirements between districts? How will the annexation address this ongoing problem?
17. Packet page 197, full report page 167, need to get a full and more detailed explanation as to what happened with the 2016 West County LAFCO Municipal Service Review (MSR) and potential merger with Pinole. Why specifically did a merger not happen? Who performed the 2016 MSR study? Are they involved in this Triton Feasibility study?
18. Packet page 218, full report page 188, regarding dissolution of redevelopment agencies, doesn’t explain how much additional revenue RHFD will receive starting in 2025 after the “Recognized Obligation Payments of the redevelopment agency and its successor are extinguished”. This could be a significant amount of revenue for RHFD, again making this report incomplete. Need to review footnote 34, which points to RHFD FY2020-21 Budget page 12. What is going on here?
19. Packet pages 262 to 264, Appendices pages 29 to 31, these are stakeholder comments for RHFD. Very important! Please read! Generally, there is praise for community firefighters, fear loss of local control, concerns for Measure O staying within the community, not getting appropriate attention from the County BoS, and not getting adequate services and finances from the larger district. These are concerns that we have all talked about since we learned of the attempt to consolidate.