By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
Westminster pays $10.5 million for fire services but has a $3.7 million general fund deficit. The city recently laid off 67 employees and placed the city manager on permanent leave.
Mayor Margie Rice said the city needs to hold on to more of its money so it can keep its own employees.
“We can’t lay off all of City Hall to keep the [OCFA] contract,” she said. “Something’s got to give and it’s got to be them.”
Stanton recently negotiated an almost $700,000 reduction in costs with the OCFA.
“Westminster is in a similar boat in that we need a reduction,” said Councilmember Tyler Diep, who sits on the OCFA Board of Directors. “We can’t afford our current level of service.”
Diep is working with city staff on possible reduction plans. If the city and the OCFA can’t come to an agreement, the city may look elsewhere for fire services.
“Other cities have already approached us about a joint-powers scenario,” Councilmember Andy Quach said. He did not specify which cities.
Three of Westminster’s neighbors, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, have their own fire departments. Santa Ana and Seal Beach contract with the OCFA.
Pending final approval from the OCFA Board of Directors, Stanton will save roughly a sixth of its $4 million fire budget, according to Diep. Stanton’s one fire station will shrink from eight firefighters to five, and it will trade in one of its two fire trucks for a paramedic van. Westminster has three OCFA fire stations and 21 firefighters within its borders.