Contra Costa Voters to Weigh In on $75 Fire District Parcel Tax

C. Costa Cty Fire District

Come election day, Contra Costa voters will weigh in on a $75-a-year parcel tax, sent to them courtesy of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District. Here are some of the district’s arguments as to why they need the dough. Of note:

Without additional revenues…our reserves will be exhausted and service cuts will be inevitable… we would be forced to close an additional 6 fire stations – reducing our total stations from 28 to 22. This is a step we don’t want to take – response times would be inadequate to meet the need for quick action for life-saving emergency medical services and fires would not be staffed with enough firefighters in a timeframe experts agree is necessary to properly protect life and property.

If the measure passes by the required two-thirds vote, residents of Antioch, Clayton, Concord, Lafayette, Martinez, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, San Pablo and Walnut Creek, plus those from the unincorporated communities of Bay Point, Briones, Clyde, El Sobrante, North Richmond, East Richmond Heights, and Pacheco are in for seven years of payments, from Jul, 2013 to Jun, 2020.

ConFire has posted a May survey that asked respondents whether they’d pony up a tax of up to $88 for five years in order to avoid closing fire stations, ensure prompt 9-1-1 response, and make needed repairs and upgrades. Sixty-six percent responded definitely or probably yes. Of course, that’s without hearing the counter-arguments, which usually go something like, “I already pay enough in taxes.”

Here’s another argument, by Supervisor Candace Andersen, as reported by The Contra Costa Times:

[Anderson] said she could not support a parcel tax without a long-term financial plan detailing how the district would sustain itself. Andersen said fire district figures show that even if the tax passes, the district will be in the red by fiscal year 2015-16.

“I would rather, as horrible as it sounds, put no measure before voters than a flawed measure that is destined to fail,” said Andersen.

By the way, in June, a much bigger parcel tax — $197 gradually increasing to $257 over 10 years — was voted down by neighboring East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District voters, not even gaining a simple majority let alone the two-thirds needed for passage.