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VILLA PARK : Council May Balk at Joining Fire Agency

Villa Park is contemplating going on its own when it come to fighting fires.

The City Council has scheduled a special meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss alternatives to joining a countywide fire authority. Villa Park so far is the only city that has balked at the proposed new fire administration.

The authority, scheduled to be launched this fall, would be a new governing body for the Orange County Fire Department.

Fourteen of 16 cities currently served by the county Fire Department have voted to join it, and a 15th city, Seal Beach, has indicated it will join soon, according to Irvine City Manager Paul O. Brady Jr.

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Brady, who is representing city managers in the formation of the new authority, said he cannot understand Villa Park’s hesitancy in joining the compact.

But Villa Park Mayor Pro Tem Bob Patchin said he wonders why so many cities have already approved the agreement.

“I can’t understand how these other cities have signed away their fire money to a body that doesn’t exist,” Patchin said. He added that he has reservations about how the proposed authority would be governed.

Patchin charged that the proposed governing structure is not clear, particularly on what role city managers would play in the new fire administration.

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Brady said that the fears expressed by Patchin and some other council members in Villa Park are groundless.

“I think Villa Park is making a mountain out of a molehill,” Brady said. He added that no other city in the proposed authority has had any controversy with the proposed new fire authority.

Brady said the fire authority would represent all cities adequately.

“Each city would have a voting board member,” Brady said, adding that the new authority will be launched whether or not Villa Park joins, and if it doesn’t, “we wish them well.”

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The Villa Park City Council was scheduled to vote on the proposed authority last month, but it deferred action after Patchin and Councilman Joseph S. Barsa said they had many problems with the concept.

Not all council members are opposed to the fire authority. At the council’s July 26 meeting, Councilmen Bob Bell and John Frackelton said they had no objections to delaying a vote on the authority. But both said they think it is likely the best option for Villa Park.

“We really don’t have any option, in my opinion, but to go ahead,” Bell said.


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