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Monterey Park Fire Dept. to Stay City Run

Monterey Park residents for the second time have handily defeated a fire union backed ballot measure that if approved would have allowed the transfer of the city’s fire service operations over to the Los Angeles County Fire Dept.

On Tuesday, Measure FF was defeated 64.1% to 35.8%, according to city officials, who on Wednesday said that it was unlikely that the few remaining ballots to be counted would make much of a change in the final official vote count.

The defeat comes following an often-heated campaign that had both sides accusing each other of misinforming the public about the cost and impact the transfer would have on the city.

Measure FF would have amended the city’s municipal code to allow and direct the city council to negotiate a contract with the County to take over operation of Monterey Park’s fire department. The city is one of only a few small cities in the county that still runs its own fire department.

Backers of the measure, including the Monterey Park Firefighters Association, claimed the city would save $30 million over 10 years by transferring fire and ambulance service to the county, but opponents said the high cost of converting would significantly reduce that number, and the city would be left with an inferior level of service.

Councilman Peter Chan, who endorsed the measure along with councilmen Anthony Wong and Hans Liang, told EGP Wednesday that the election went the way he expected.

“The results are a reflection of the consensus that the residents want to keep their own fire department and ambulance services,” he said.

With accusations of scare tactics by both sides, Chan told EGP the city must now “heal the wounds” following the passionate campaign.

“Now that the election is over we need leave everything behind us and do what’s good for the city,” said Chan.

Residents voted against two similar measures 15 years ago that would have approved a transfer and funding for the move to the county. The July 2 Special Election cost the city $100,000.