Contra Costa Fire Protection District parcel tax, Measure Q (November 2012)
Measure Q would have levied a parcel tax of $75 each year on owners of single-family homes. Industrial and commercial landowners would have paid $75 per quarter-acre. Agricultural and vacant property owners would have paid $37.50 per parcel. Apartment owners would have paid $37.50 per unit.
The proposed tax would have gone into effect July 1, 2013 and terminate on June 30, 2020.
The tax was expected to generate $16.8 million a year in additional tax revenue for the district.
Over 100 retired workers for the district are being paid in excess of $100,000 each year in retirement benefits. 8 retired workers for the district receive an annual pension in excess of $200,000.
A 2/3rds supermajority vote was required for approval.
- Final official results from the Contra Costa County elections office.
- Fire chief Daryl Louder said that if the parcel tax fails, he will have to close seven fire stations in July 2013 and three in 2014.
- Vince Wells, president of the United Professional Fire Fighters of Contra Costa County, said that the proposed tax "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."'
- Tom Barnidge, a columnist for the Contra Costa Times, sayid, "If passed, the measure would cost each property owner $75 per year, which works out to a whopping $1.44 per week. With that windfall, you could buy a cup of coffee every Monday morning -- as long as you got it at McDonald's, not Starbucks."
- Bill Gram-Reefer, the editor of "Halfway To Concord." He said, "Despite the feints and public pronouncement made by Supervisors over the past year, budgets and expenses, and pension reform were never really seriously considered as Supervisors and union leaders joined forces to make mince meat of taxpayers, with intimidation, cries of calamity if the parcel tax is not passed, and the full force of the County machinery invested in the passage of the tax."
- The editorial board of the Contra Costa Times. They said, "Residents of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District are being offered a false choice: Approve a $75-a-year parcel tax on the Nov. 6 ballot or face the shutdown of nearly one-third of the district's stations. It's political blackmail. And it ignores potential savings that could have, and still could be, attained if fire district officials make meaningful pension changes and seriously examine ways to restructure, especially when it comes to providing emergency medical services. The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, which runs the district, should have made every effort to find savings before going to voters. It didn't. There has been no serious evaluation of alternatives. Instead, voters are told to either pay more or watch homes burn. They're told the district plans to implement serious pension reform for new hires. In fact, the new pension formulas under discussion are just slightly less generous than the current ones and far more costly than the ones in effect a decade ago."
About the district
The Contra Costa Fire Protection District is often referred to as "ConFire."
The fire protection district is "among the 14 largest metropolitan fire agencies" in California.
It serves a population of approximately 600,000 people.
Path to the ballot
The parcel tax was referred to the ballot by a 4-1 vote of the governing body of the district.
Supervisor Candace Andersen voted against the motion to place the tax on the ballot.
- Inside Bay Area, "Contra Costa fire tax measure sent to voters," July 31, 2012
- Pleasant Hill Patch, "ConFire Places Parcel Tax Measure on Ballot," August 1, 2012
- Confire Pension Benefits Table
- Contra Costa Times, "Barnidge: Beware the consequences if Contra Costa fire tax fails," September 21, 2012
- Halfway to Concord, "The fix was in: CoCo Supervisors promised firefighters a parcel tax in July 2011," July 30, 2012
- Contra Costa Times, "Contra Costa Times editorial: District voters should reject false choice offered in fire tax," August 9, 2012