The regionally consolidated fire agency serving 43 percent of Stanislaus County is facing a $1.8 million shortfall as the finances of one member agency continues to be a challenge. The shortfall has leaders considering a number of cost savings measures including brown outs, station closures, and even layoffs.

The agency, which receives about 80 percent of its funding from Modesto, has been left in a state of uncertainty as Modesto faces a budget shortfall of more than $11 million. Part of controlling the municipal finances includes addressing funding to the Agency. This year, they are increasing their contributions, but the boost in funding still leaves the City about $757,000 short of fully fulfilling its obligation.

For the Regional Fire Authority, potential pitfalls arise with any of a number of cost savings solutions. Should they layoff firefighters, they would lose $1.8 million in federal grants that pays for two years’ salaries for nine firefighters. They could also be forced to repay money already spent. Similar federal consequences could arise from reducing the minimum number of staff for each fire engine. If they close their station at the airport, then federal law will prohibit commercial airlines from operating out of the field. That would cause Modesto to lose six daily flights to San Francisco.

Read the full article at the Modesto Bee.