VISTA — Many Vistans might not be aware of a service contract between the Vista Fire Protection District and the city of Vista, which provides fire department services to those living outside of the city limits, also known as the district area.
Director Robert Fougner, who began serving in the Vista Fire Protection District in 2006, said this contract is one of his most significant achievements. For 18 months, he negotiated the service contract the district has with the city of Vista — an agreement which provides all services to those living in the district area.
This 25-year contract deal, which became effective in 2010, has good renewal terms, Fougner said.
“Most people in the county in our district don’t understand or don’t realize that when they see the city of Vista Fire Department show up to deal with fires or ambulances, that they don’t automatically have that right because they don’t live in the city of Vista,” Fougner said. “The reason they get that is because when you pay your property taxes in our district, a portion of those taxes come to us as the special district; and, we use that money to purchase the services from the city of Vista under a service contract that I negotiated.”
This contract defines how the district area is served.
Fougner shared that when he got on the board, he recognized the need to take another path and adopt a very different posture with the city. His vision was a partnership and something more conciliatory.
The goal was to focus on what type of economic relationship made the best sense for both sides.
“But the real heart of it is that the contract is geared to the amount of revenue of the district,” he said. “So, the contract provides that we buy the services that the city provides at a formula that ticks at 90 percent of our revenue — whatever that number is year in and year out.
“So, the good thing about that is we have created a model where the district will always be able to afford that contract. It’s self-sustainable in perpetuity because the cost of that service can never exceed the amount of revenue that we take in.”
On the flipside, Fougner shared that the advantage for the city is that it has a very stable budget support.
According to Fougner, Vista is one of the few fire districts in the entire state with a rural geographical situation that still receives urbanite-level service. There are timely response rates, modern equipment and multiple points of presence no matter the location of the emergency in the district.
“We get all that metropolitan quality service, and we still maintain this rural lifestyle,” he said.