ORANGE COUNTY IN BANKRUPTCY : BOND TICKER : Long-Delayed Joint Authority Takes Over County Fire March 1

Officials from 18 cities that have contracts with the Orange County Fire Department for fire protection announced Friday that a new joint powers authority will take control of the department on March 1.

The long-planned JPA had been placed in limbo by the county bankruptcy. Some city officials feared that the county might tap into Fire Department reserve funds to dig itself out of the financial crisis.

But after a meeting Friday of city officials and County Supervisors Marian Bergeson and Gaddi H. Vasquez, both sides said creation of the JPA will move forward as planned.

Under the JPA plan, the department will be run by a governing board made up of city and county officials. "This is what you call restructuring county government," said Irvine Mayor Michael Ward, hailing the plan. "This is what the county needs to do."

Compiled by Shelby Grad, with Lee Romney, Debora Vrana, Gebe Martinez and Mark Platte.

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