East Contra Costa County parcel tax for Fire Services, Measure S (June 2012)
If Measure S had been approved by voters, it would have imposed a tax of $197 per year per parcel. The tax would have been in effect for 10 years. This would have generated $8.6 million in additional revenue for the East Contra Costa Fire District, enabling the agency to add firefighters and paramedics to the six stations it oversees.
The fire district had eight stations, but closed two of them in 2010 after being in a deficit-spending position in fiscal year 2009-2010.
According to representatives of the fire district, since the voters did not approve the tax request, the district will have to close three of its remaining six stations, and lay off approximately half of its 43 crew members. If the tax had been approved, on the other hand, according to the district, it would have "enabled the district to hire enough firefighters to meet the staffing minimum -- which would include having a firefighter with advanced life-support training as that third person on each shift -- as well as to eventually reopen one of the stations."
The tax was unanimously supported by the nine members of the board of the East Contra Costa Fire District.
Measure S was also endorsed by:
The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association opposed the tax. Kris Hunt, the executive director of the group, said, "This is a lot of money to lay on residents". In general, the taxpayers association believed that the fire district should not have a staffing model that is not financially sustainable.
In January 2012, the Contra Costa Grand Jury issued a report on the proposed parcel tax. They said the fire district should offer alternatives to it and said that the requested amount would raise revenues that will significantly exceed what the district needs to pay for the additional levels of service it is proposing.
The question on the ballot:
|MEASURE S: "To preserve existing emergency services, add paramedic services and prevent further layoffs of up to one half of existing firefighters and the closure of up to 3 additional fire stations, shall an ordinance be adopted to enact a parcel tax of $197 per year on each parcel of real property within the District, with an annual cost of living adjustment not to exceed 3% and terminating on June 30, 2023?"|
Cost of election
- See also: Costs of administering local elections
The cost of holding the election was estimated to be $150,000. Contra Costa County administered the election, and the fire district is required to reimburse the county for the Measure S election administration costs.
- Website of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District
- Unified Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa
- Mercury News, "Parcel tax for fire service in East Contra Costa headed to voters", September 13, 2011
- Mercury News, "Fire district changes mind, adds sunset clause to parcel tax", February 27, 2012
- Mercury News, "East Contra Costa Fire District plans meeting on parcel tax", December 9, 2011
- Contra Costa Professional Firefighters