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ConFire Places Parcel Tax Measure on Ballot

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District board Tuesday placed a $75 per parcel per year parcel tax measure on the November ballot.

A looming financial crunch and the potential loss of service capability and stations within the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District drove a 4-1 board decision asking residents for an extra $75 per year to help defray costs.

Tuesday's bid to place the parcel tax measure on the November ballot was not made lightly, district officials said. Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville was the holdout vote in the 4-1 decision.

If approved by the voters in November, the $75 per parcel per year tax is expected to generate an additional $16.8 million a year and enable the district to maintain service, which is suffering due to eroding property tax revenues.

"Asking the voters to support a revenue measure is a last resort during this tough economy," United Professional Fire Fighters of Contra Costa County President Vince Wells said in a prepared statement. "But it is a critical piece of the long term plan to make up for essential revenue lost from property taxes and to maintain the 9-1-1 emergency services that keep our community safe."

The district, known by its shorthand name of ConFire, ranks among the 14 largest metropolitan fire agencies in the state.

It provides fire and emergency medical services to nine cities and serves a population of 600,000 across a 304-square-mile area with 30 fire stations.

If approved, the tax would go into effect July 1, 2013 and end June 30, 2020. Without it, fire Chief Daryl Louder said the district would have to close between seven and 10 fire stations and lay off firefighters.

Captain Rich WC August 01, 2012 at 06:19 PM
All of the above comments address the reasons to vote NO. Check out the $ 100,000 plus pension club at http://www.scribd.com/doc/101756751/Confire-Fire-Pensions-of-100-000-by-Pension-Total-as-of-June-1-2012.
JClark927 August 01, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Maybe not necessary to pile on but: I am an unaffiliated voter who believes that the "fix" on all levels of government will ultimately involve higher taxes (hopefully, for everyone). That said, i will not vote for ANY new tax until there is meaningful public service pension reform. That does not mean that acting like % increases in contribution is reform. No payments until age 65 (discount at 62, premium at 67); no 80% plus of salary -- more like 50%; no deferring funding onto people who did not receive the service of the retiree. Medical? Similar issues. Horrible campaign finance has built these surreal, non-sustainable programs.
Let's be Strategic August 05, 2012 at 06:51 PM
There are two sides to this issue and the anti-tax folks are having a field day making their points. I don't agree with most of their statements. Here is a counter point that I read on another blog. I urge the public to get informed on this critical issue. From East County Reader: So you ask why should you give up 75.00? Here is a simple answer. Because your PROPERTY TAXES which make up all of the funding for Fire Services have been REDUCED for 3 years straight. Simple economics dictates that not only have you saved more than 75.00 but the fire department has lost far more than that in revenue. Pretty simple! In most cases voters/homeowners/taxpayers are seeing hundreds and in many cases thousands in reductions. That means the TAXPAYER is paying a LOT less in taxes and yet the services have NOT been reduced-yet. Let me ask you a question; how long do you think the budget could have stayed balanced or how long do you think their financial reserves could hold up when it is a FACT that WE are not maintaining the funding that they rely on for operational costs. It doesn’t matter really matter what “public” service we are talking about, with one monumental exception; The fire department is the only one that operates entirely from property tax money! If you paid attention, read any of the material available or watched ANY of the hearings you would know this because it was all explained very clearly. It is FACT, not my “opinion”. I agree!
WENDY LACK August 06, 2012 at 10:53 PM
@Let's Be Strategic: You’ve bought into the Karen Mitchoff line that she’s paying lower property taxes so will gladly pay higher fire taxes with the “savings.” This perspective is out-of-touch. Many taxpayers have NOT seen their taxes drop significantly. And many are financially unable able to pay more in the current economic climate due to unemployment, underemployment and/or having a mortgage bigger than current equity. Families and business owners don’t have extra money sitting around waiting to be spent on higher taxes -- nor are they willing to pay higher taxes when the District has failed to meet them anywhere near halfway in terms of fiscal restraint. Informed voters realize that ConFire’s fiscal mismanagement over the past decade is the root cause of its current difficulties. County supervisors created this situation, yet fail to assume responsibility or take action responsive to the situation. When fiscal red flags have been raised, the District’s response has been to increase spending, deplete reserves and continue business as usual. The District’s lack of long-term financial planning and prudent reform of unaffordable compensation/benefits plans, as well as its failure to restructure its staffing model to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs evidence its focus on perpetuating the status quo. That's why voters will reject the parcel tax in November.
Colin Penser August 26, 2012 at 05:26 PM
For those of you who complain about the pensions, you should be aware that every firefighter pays 25% of their monthly net income into the system. If everyone that complains about this put 25% of their paychecks into a IRA or 401K, they would retire quite wealthy. Sure the newspaper can show what firefighters make $100,000 a year, but once you subtract the 25%, taxes, and all the other stuff, the take home pay is not that crazy as many of you might think. Base pay is $6500 mo. for a firefighter. Minus retirement and taxes, that leaves me with $3500 take home. Not the gravy train that the media makes it out to be.

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