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VILLA PARK : County Fire Pact Commitment Renewed

Although it raised some questions about the plan, the City Council has unanimously reaffirmed the city’s membership in a new Joint Powers Authority to govern the Orange County Fire Department.

However, the council last week put one condition on its continued membership, insisting the fire authority must have at least $20 million in reserve funds.

The authority is a partnership of county government and all cities served by the county fire department. Cities, including Villa Park, joined the pact last year. They have now been asked to reaffirm membership and endorse the authority rules by Friday.

Villa Park last year initially balked at joining the authority. Mayor Bob Patchin said the city’s initial criticism of the plan produced several beneficial changes for all cities, including a cap on possible fee increases.

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Patchin, in remarks last week, said he still has some misgivings about the authority. He said the county’s bankruptcy only increases his worries about the new fire authority.

Patchin said he does not see how the bankrupt county government can transfer money into the authority. “They just don’t have the money to transfer, and it is all tangled up in the courts anyway,” he said.

Nonetheless, Patchin joined the four other council members in voting to reaffirm the plan.

The council insisted on $20 million in reserve funds for the new fire authority because of questions raised during the meeting about the county’s financial status.

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