MOFD Freezes Fire Prevention Budget for 2024
The MOFD budget for fiscal year 2024 has $1.92 million for fire prevention compared with only $1.53 million for the 2023 fiscal year.
However, $500,000 of this is for home hardening grants. These grants have been available all of 2023 but only $60,000 of that has been spent. There is no reason to expect that 2024 will be any different. Therefore, assuming only $60,000 in actual grants distributed, the 2024 budget would be reduced to $1.48 million, a little less than the current fiscal year.
In addition, of the $1.48 million, $1.13 million is for employee salary and benefits. The employees include the Fire Marshall and code compliance inspectors. No one actually doing any fuel mitigation. The only expense related to physically removing vegetation is the chipper crew and their supervisor costing, at most, $200-300,000, most of it in Moraga because Orinda runs its own chipper which does most of the work in Orinda.
To add to MOFD's questionable focus on wildfire prevention, next year's budget shows a $2 million surplus. But the board is using it to rebuild Moraga's Station 41. While the district laudibly wants to minimize its long-term debt, funding an asset with a 50-100 year useful life that will be utilized by generations of future service recipients is a valid use of debt, especially when there are critical current needs like wildfire prevention.
All five MOFD Board Members campaigned as wildfire prevention proponents. When will they spend substantive amounts of MOFD’s $35 million of annual revenue on it?