Close to 200 East County residents packed the student center at Cuyamaca College on Wednesday to voice their frustration over the contracting out services to state agency Cal Fire.
Despite the vehement contentiousness of the crowd, the board voted 4-3 to enter into negotiations with Cal Fire.
In January, San Miguel sent out an RFP to contract out services to any agency that responded with a submission. Only Cal Fire did so.
San Miguel Fire Chief Augie Ghio that the RFP was sent out because the fire district, which serves 150,000 people in Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego, Jamul, Crest and parts of unincorporated La Mesa and El Cajon, "wanted to investigate a better way to do business."
In an article by U-T San Diego about the Wednesday meeting, board member Chris Winter said: “The bottom line is we have a fiscal problem. We have to stop kicking the can. We have to fix this and fix it now.”
Winter cast the final deciding vote, with the board deadlocked at 3-3, according to the paper.
San Miguel is facing a $1.3 million budget defecit this year, its third defecit of more than a million dollars in the last few years. Board members told the crowd that going with Cal Fire could potentially put an estimated $3.2 million back into district coffers, this despite an estimated $1.2 million annual administration fee that Cal Fire would charge to operate the district.