Lathrop Man­teca Fire seeks deal in cov­er­age dis­pute

Manteca Bulletin - - Front Page - By JA­SON CAMP­BELL

All that Gene Neely wants when it comes to the dis­puted prop­erty along Lathrop’s new north­ern bor­der is for the city to re­main whole.

And the Lathrop Man­teca Fire Dis­trict Chief says that he’s will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with the French Camp McKin­ley Fire Dis­trict to make that pos­si­ble.

With a pre­sen­ta­tion to the dis­trict’s Board of Di­rec­tor’s com­ing in a mat­ter of weeks, Neely said that he re­mains open to the prospect of reach­ing an agree­ment with his neigh­bor­ing agency that can satisfy all par­ties with­out forc­ing the mat­ter back to the Lo­cal Agency For­ma­tion Com­mis­sion for pos­si­ble con­sol­i­da­tion.

“All along that has been the goal here – to

keep the City of Lathrop whole,” Neely said of the dis­pute over the Fly­ing J Truck Stop on Roth Road that was an­nexed into Lathrop’s city lim­its but re­mains ser­viced by French Camp McKin­ley. “I’m go­ing to present some op­tions to the board and we’re go­ing to have to dis­cuss the best way to move for­ward on this.”

Ac­cord­ing to Neely, he’s open to the idea of al­low­ing French Camp McKin­ley to keep the prop­erty and over­ride taxes for the par­cel in dis­pute as long as his dis­trict is able to pro­vide ser­vice. The unique sit­u­a­tion marks the first time since Lathrop in­cor­po­rated as a city in 1989 that the dis­trict did not pro­vide fire ser­vice to ev­ery­thing within the city’s bound­aries.

But what was a com­pli­cated sit­u­a­tion be­came even more com­pli­cated with it was an­nounced that French Camp McKin­ley Fire Chief Fred Mand­ing would be out in­def­i­nitely on a work­man’s com­pen­sa­tion re­lated is­sue. For­mer Stock­ton Fire Of­fi­cial Mario McArn, who re­tired af­ter 27 years with the City of Stock­ton, has since been hired as French Camp McKin­ley’s In­terim Chief, and Neely said that he has reached out to con­tinue the dis­cus­sions that have been on­go­ing.

While the nu­clear op­tion in the back-and-forth would be to push for a con­sol­i­da­tion – blend­ing the two districts to­gether with a uni­fied com­mand – Neely said that he’s open to ne­go­ti­ate other sce­nar­ios that could in­clude a mu­tual aid agree­ment that could be ben­e­fi­cial to both agen­cies.

The French Camp McKin­ley Fire Dis­trict is re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing ser­vice to the area just north of Lathrop and South of the City of Stock­ton – a swath of land that in­cludes some of San Joaquin County’s most im­por­tant in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing the San Joaquin County Jail, the San Joaquin County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, the San Joaquin County Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Fa­cil­ity and San Joaquin Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

Cur­rently it is French Camp that gets both the prop­erty tax and over­ride tax for the Fly­ing J Truck Stop and other prop­er­ties that prior to the an­nex­a­tion were un­der their con­trol, but the Mea­sure C sales tax fund­ing that goes to ben­e­fit the Lathrop Man­teca Fire Dis­trict re­mains un­touched un­der the cur­rent agree­ment.

The Lathrop Man­teca Fire Dis­trict Board of Di­rec­tors typ­i­cally meets on the third Thurs­day of every month at Lathrop City Hall – lo­cated at 390 Towne Cen­tre Drive – at 7 p.m. Their next meet­ing is sched­uled for Thurs­day, Sept. 20.

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