UPDATE: Maricopa should disincorporate if no agreement reached on fire protection costs, grand jury says

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UPDATE (10:15 a.m.): County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said on Twitter the county is not planning on applying the proposed fire cost methodology to Maricopa.

“They are a unique and extreme outlier, and I think that is more than obvious to everyone,” Alsop said.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Grand Jury is recommending the city of Maricopa begin procedures to disincorporate if it’s unable to reach an agreement with the county on rising Fire Protection Service costs.

“Maricopa does not have the necessary funding to pay increased fire protection costs and those increases will create an economic hardship for the city and residents,” said the grand jury’s report, titled “The End of an Era.”

The Kern County Fire Department provides fire services to the city through Station 22, currently budgeted annually for $25,181. A proposed seven-year fire contract has that number soaring by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, reaching a total of $1,510,905 by 2028, the report says.

Maricopa, located about 40 miles southwest of Bakersfield, struggles to remain financially solvent, with only three operational businesses within city limits and a negative growth rate. The city has $300,462 in operating revenue with $246,315 in operating expenses, according to the report.

“The City of Maricopa administrators are aware of the economic impact of the proposed increased fire protection service cost and the adverse monetary effect on its budget,” the report says.

Maricopa is also in the process of applying for a $7 million grant to finish updating its sewer system. The report says the balance of an existing grant from the State Water Resources Control Board could be assumed by the county if the city disincorporates. The county, however, would have to re-apply for the $7 million grant to complete the sewer project.

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