Fate of volunteer fire department in hands of Julian voters

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SAN DIEGO — Eastern San Diego County residents have until Tuesday to vote on a measure to dissolve the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District and merge with the County Fire Authority.

Ballot counting is scheduled to begin Thursday for Measure A.

The San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission voted 3-2 in September to disband the district and the volunteer firefighting force. Residents living in the district decried the decision at the time and collected signatures to urge the county Board of Supervisors to call a referendum on the dissolution, which the board did in December.

At the time, the commission cited future budget issues as the reason to dissolve the fire protection district, as the commission believed it would not have the capital to sustain the volunteer force. Since then, every member of the commission has been replaced either by vote or resignation.

The newly completed group is now in favor of keeping the volunteer force, but remains subject to the whims of residents in the district.

Should voters approve the measure, the county would serve the area with contracted assistance from Cal Fire. Cal Fire Local 2881, the organization’s union, currently backs the proposal, arguing that Cal Fire would only have an agreement to respond to wildfires with traffic accidents and medical calls falling to the wayside if it fails.

The county Registrar of Voters sent out mail ballots for the election last month. For residents who did not receive a ballot by mail, they can vote Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Registrar’s Office, located at 5600 Overland Ave.

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