What was billed as a special workshop meeting to “Determine the future of the Twentynine Palms Fire Department” was held Saturday at Twentynine Palms Water District offices. Not counting people not related to the district, only five residents attended. Among the 20 people there were Twentynine Palms Mayor Dan Mintz and City Manager Joe Guzetta. The Water District taxes each parcel $80 a year; those funds, according to the Fire Department, are not enough to sustain it due to increasing expenses, including replacing aging equipment, and staff pay, health, and retirement costs. They say if nothing is done, the Department will run out of money in about two years. To reduce costs, the Lear Avenue fire station was closed last year and paid staff was drastically reduced. Fire Chief Jim Thompson outlined three options to fund the Fire Department. Option 1, which would reopen the Lear station and bring the Department up to full staff, was to place a parcel tax of an additional $40 a year with a built-in 3 percent a year increase to adjust for inflation. Option 2, which would reopen the Lear station but still have reduced staff, for $32 a year with the 3 percent yearly adjustment. Option 3, which would just keep the Department at its present level, would be $12 a year with the 3 percent kicker. The few residents there commented; one said “Let the City pay for it;” another suggested they raise the tax to $45 a year for four years, a plan that would be more likely to pass, noting that Chief Thompson is paid about 70 percent more than the fire captains. A third suggested that they “Keep hounding the City,” accusing them of “Not providing for the safety of its citizens.” One returned to the podium asking why only property owners have to pay, while all residents benefit. For the record, the City was willing to take over the responsibility for fire safety, contracting the service to the County. The Water District balked when the County said they would have to close the Lear Fire station, taking the responsibility back; shortly after, they closed the Lear station. After a short break, Board members commented, discussing the options, making note of the poor turnout, and need for public education. The Board concluded by voting to bring back all three options for a vote, plus another with a flat rate just to sustain the existing level of service. They also directed staff to get bids to conduct a public education campaign.