Orinda Group Runs the Numbers On MOFD

A group of residents take a critical look at operations and finances at the Moraga-Orinda Fire District.


A local group which readily admits its lack of expertise in emergency services matters but which claims "expertise in the fields of finance, accounting, engineering and business," has issued a report critical of Orinda's emergency services provider -- the Moraga-Orinda Fire Disrict.

The group, calling themselves the Orinda Emergency Services Task Force, formed last year after city council member Amy Worth asked the council to form a task force reviewing MOFD's management and fiscal policies. Members said they formed and undertook an independent, unsanctioned review of the district's management practices after the council did not follow up on Worth's request.

The group hopes the city will review their report, in which they claim that response times are not met 40 percent of the time and that taxpayers are paying $1 million more than they need to for district services, and hope to present their findings to the Orinda City Council at its Sept. 18 meeting.

The report and additional exhibits referenced in the report are available on the Task Force web site

Members of the group include residents: Bailey Lee, Bob Mills, Diana Stephens, Dick James, Joan Daoro, John Shelling, Sandy Gross, Steve Cohn, and Vince Maiorana.

MOFD Chief Randall Bradley was sent a copy of the report, but has not yet been able to review it, district officials said.

Johnny September 12, 2012 at 08:48 PM
task force!?! protect lil b
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 12, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Firefighting services should be privatized.
Eastofthehills September 12, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Hmmm probably a few clarifications are needed; Are "households" for purposes of this report considered SFR's or any single unit? Are all Orinda households in the primary coverage zones of the Orinda located stations and if not how many Orinda households are primarily covered by the Moraga stations? I would wager two things; Moraga has alot more apartments/condos townhomes than Orinda; those apartments and townhomes are assessed at a much lower value than a single family home thus driving up orinda's "contribution" when percent of assessed value is used in a tax. Secondly I'll bet that a significant portion of south Orinda is primarily served by the Moraga based stations; additionally I'll bet none of Moraga is primarily served by any of the Orinda stations. The crux of the revenue statement is that Orinda pays $1M in excess. In truth I would say Orinda pays too little. A large portion of south Orinda is served/covered by the "8" Moraga firefighters while none of Moraga is served/covered by any of the "11" Orinda firefighters. If we were to sever the district to maintain the same level of coverage Moraga could probably drop 2 firefighters and Orinda could add 2 making the ratio more realistic 13/6 with Orinda "paying" 62% of the costs instead of the 58% it currently pays.
Eastofthehills September 12, 2012 at 09:17 PM
just like marcus crassus in the old days! And the term firesale came into being!
Steve Cohn September 12, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Read the report. Section V. For every engine response from a Moraga station into Orinda there is a reciprocal response from an Orinda station into Moraga. The only net service from Moraga-based uinits into Orinda is 100 ambulance responses per year: 50 first responders (1 per week); 50 backup (does it really take 5 medical responders to deal with the normal first aid emergency)? What should Orindans be willing to pay for this service? If this service did not exist, what would the net effect on Orinda's service be? Does this service alleviate any the 40% of incidents that are not responded to within the target 6 minute response time? Could the $1 million be better spent?
Chris Nicholson September 12, 2012 at 10:00 PM
@Steve (or others who know): As current firefighters continue to work and vest in their pensions, is the MOFD fully funding the incremental liability using realistic discount rates (i.e., ~5%, not >7%)? If not, isn't the "hole" getting deeper every year? BTW, thank you to all the Task Force members.
Diana Stephens September 12, 2012 at 10:14 PM
There is a lot of information to absorb. The report is about 75 pages and they are not wasted. We have to give everyone a chance to digest it. Get out your reading glasses and get a cup of tea.
Steve Cohn September 12, 2012 at 10:26 PM
No. Their pension administrator, the county plan CCCERA, still uses 7.75%. Plus, while they are forced to fund unfunded liabilities (again understated because they discount all future liabilities at the same 7.75%), they further delay the repayment by not immediately recognizing shortfalls but "smoothing" them in. Last year the shortfall was defined as $18 million. An increase to $24 million was just announced but the real shortfall (even accepting the7.75% discount rate) is $31 million using the market value of their assets. The Task Force report (Section VI) estimates that MOFD would have to spend an additional $4 million per year (and let that grow at 3%) if they were to (1) assume a 6% earning rate and (2) attempt to fully fund existing liabilities by 2042.
Bailey Lee September 12, 2012 at 11:46 PM
How much was that wager? Real money or just talk?
Bailey Lee September 12, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Absolutely, but the real question is whether the Orinda City Council or the MOFD Board will even take note of this effort, much less read the report and think about what they read.
Janet Maiorana September 13, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Ah, that's the rub.
Steve Cohn September 14, 2012 at 01:03 PM
At the September 18th council meeting (7:00 Orinda Library Auditorium) the Task Force is going to ask the Council to form a committee, or task force, or possibly re-establish the defunct Public Safety Commission to officially review the report and issue suggestions of what the city needs to do or not do. If you think this is important, be there and speak up.
Chris Nicholson October 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM
@ Steve and other task force members: Have you guys given much thought to the concept of a combine Police/Fire "Department of Public Safety?" It seems to me that in smaller towns with a mix of dense and sparsely populated areas, the core challenges for both Fire and Police are minimum efficient scale (related to admin overhead and staffing), response time and utilization of people, facilities and equipment. All of these issues could be dramatically improved with a combined force which included a number of cross-trained personnel. The "only thing" blocking this logical consolidation (as far as I can tell) are two VERY VERY powerful unions (and perhaps some regulations they managed to to put in place). Imagine the response times if (for no extra money) we had 2X the cops patrolling at all times, and they were all EMT trained, with first response kits and collapsible gurneys in the trunks of their patrol car. By the time the patient is stabilized and prepped for transport, the ambulance will have arrived.... Imagine if firefighters used some idle capacity to investigate unsolved crimes, etc., etc.....


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