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TCSD board tables Fire Department Sustainability Report 

-Special from the Soaring Eagle Press-

Board may call special meeting to discuss report with interim chief

TempletonDue to once again being called to fight an out of county wildfire, Templeton’s Interim Fire Chief Keith Aggson, was unable to be on hand Tuesday night at the Templeton Community Services District (TCSD) Board of Directors meeting to present his report on the sustainability of Templeton’s Fire Department.

Aggson is a full-time member of the Atascadero Fire Department (AFD) and is temporarily serving part-time as Templeton’s Interim Fire Chief. His duties with AFD have necessitated serving on an AFD wildfire strike team to fight two different out of county fires that happened to fall during both Board meetings this month.

His report addresses whether or not TFD’s current model of operation and funding is sustainable, shows progress made toward sustainability, offers several options and makes recommendations to the Board for consideration.

Worst case scenario, the Board could pull the plug on TFD and fold it into Cal Fire or another emergency services agency.

Hanging in the balance is the ongoing recruitment for a new Fire Chief that is nearing the candidate interview stage.

While a written report is available in the Board packet, the Directors all expressed a desire to hear the report and receive answers to their questions directly from Aggson. But putting off making any decisions based on the Chief’s sustainability report also effects the District’s in-process recruitment of a new full-time Fire Chief.

After some discussion as to the pros and cons of a special meeting, workshop or regular meeting to hear the item, and the need for Aggson to be present, the Board settled on a compromise.

“I believe the Chief needs to be here and I’m ready to move forward with this at the next regular meeting – or sooner,” said Director Geoff English. “This is an update so I would prefer a special meeting [rather than a workshop].”

As a result, the Board directed staff to put the item on their next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, September 2, while keeping the door open to call a special meeting at an earlier date depending on Aggson’s availability.

The Board was also asked to consider either continuing along the current timeline for the recruitment of a new Fire Chief, or slowing the process down until the Board hears and takes action on the sustainability report.

“Aggson’s absence shows the need for in house leadership,” said English. “There’s no justification for any further delay – we need to move forward now.”

Others favored slowing the process until decisions regarding TFD’s sustainability had been made.

“I don’t think it matters one way or the other because nothing is going to happen over the next two weeks,” said Board President Greg O’Sullivan.

Staff was directed to rate a supplemental set of questions recently completed by the candidates and then develop a short list for interviews between now and the next meeting.

In other business, the Board unanimously accepted the County’s Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. They also said yes to the proposed budget adjustments that included funding for an office remodel project, and changes to the Recreation Department budget due to the start-up of Champions After School Program that will be housed in Len’s Place (Recreation Building – formally Templeton Youth Center).

The sustainability report is an important milestone study for Templeton’s Fire Department in its quest to remain a Templeton entity. If a special meeting is necessary to assure Chief Aggson’s attendance, it is highly likely that there will only be a 24-hour notice. Those interested in hearing what the Chief has to say about TFD’s sustainability and participating in the discussion are encouraged to read thru the report contained in the current (Aug 19) board packet1 and stay tuned for a “News Flash” notification if a special meeting is called. Otherwise, mark your calendars for Tuesday, September 2 at 7 pm.

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