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Ceres won’t be subjected to fire recovery fee
• Modesto’s actions don’t apply to Ceres
Ceres fire engine sits
While Modesto Fire now runs the Ceres Fire Department, it will not begin charging insurance companies to respond to Ceres fires, auto crashes and other emergencies. Only the Ceres City Council can enact such a charge, said Modesto Fire Chief Alan Ernst. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Modesto Fire Department wants to begin billing insurance companies when its firefighters answer calls for service to car wrecks, fires, rescues and medical aid calls – but that doesn’t trigger the same practice in Ceres.

Questions arose if Ceres would be subjected to the same fire service fee recovery program since the city of Ceres now contracts for service with the city of Modesto. Ceres City Manager Alex Terrazas told the council on Monday that Modesto’s enactment of fees “will not impact the city of Ceres and will not be collected at this point within the city of Ceres.”

He said the Ceres City Council would have to approve such a fee.

Councilwoman Linda Ryno and some residents were worried when they heard about Modesto’s plans and they might lead to increased insurance rates but were put at ease after clarification was made on Monday.

Modesto Fire Chief Alan Ernst informed the Ceres City Council that the policy would not apply to Ceres.

The city of Modesto expects to reap about $1.5 million annually through the new fee once it starts as early as the beginning of 2022. It is designed to help Modesto Fire maintain its current level of service since that current tax revenues are not keeping up with the rising costs of providing services.

The fees would be based on the type of call but the number suggested for response to a car crash would be $516. The bill would go to the insurance company, not directly to the citizen.