Kneeland Fire Protection District Special Tax, Measure L (June 2014)

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A Kneeland Fire Protection District Special Tax, Measure L ballot question was on the June 3, 2014 election ballot for voters in the Kneeland Fire Protection District in Humboldt County, California, where it was approved.

Measure L authorized the Kneeland Fire Protection District to impose an additional parcel tax of $80 per improved parcel and $60 per unimproved parcel in order to fund fire protection services and equipment.[1]

A two-thirds supermajority vote was required for the approval of Measure L.

Election results

Measure L
Approveda Yes 201 81.71%
Election results from Humboldt County Elections Office

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:[1]

Shall Ordinance No. 01-22-2014 (01) of the Kneeland Fire Protection District authorizing the District to impose and levy a supplemental special tax of $80 per assessor's improved parcel and $60 per assessor's unimproved parcel to use in providing and enhancing fire protection, prevention and suppression services, and emergency medical and rescue services, including acquiring, operating and maintaining fire suppression and emergency response equipment, payment of personnel costs and training, and funding capital improvements be approved? [2]

Impartial analysis

The following impartial analysis of Measure L was prepared by the office of county counsel:[1]

A YES vote on Measure L will approve a supplemental special tax to fund the provision of fire protection and emergency medical services in the Kneeland Fire Protection District.

If approved by the voters, for the fiscal year July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, the supplemental special tax will be collected in the base amount of $80.00 per improved parcel, and $60.00 per unimproved parcel. For the fiscal year July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, and for each subsequent year, the tax may increase by an amount not to exceed one percent per year. The supplemental special tax will be collected in addition to an existing special tax, and it will remain in effect as long as the Kneeland Fire Protection District is in existence.

This measure will not become effective, and this supplemental special tax will not be imposed, unless two thirds (2/3) of the voters within the district approve the measure. [2]

—Humboldt County Counsel[1]


Kneeland Fire District campaign poster


The following individuals signed the official arguments in favor of Measure L:[1]

  • Michael J. Crowley, captain of the Kneeland Vol. Fire Dept.
  • Michael E. Davis, president of the Kneeland Fire Protection District
  • Richard L. Hardin, fire chief of the Kneeland Vol. Fire Dept./Business Owner
  • Mark Lovelace, Humboldt County 3rd District Supervisor
  • Michael Quincan, superintendent of Kneeland School

Arguments in favor

Official arguments

The following official arguments were submitted in favor of Measure L:[1]

After 23 years with no increase in revenue, 80% overall inflation including a quadrupling of fuel costs, the Kneeland Fire Protection District Board of Directors is seeking adequate revenue to continue to provide quality, first responder fire protection and emergency medical services.

MEASURE L proposes a “Supplemental Special Tax” of $80/year on improved parcels and $60/year on unimproved parcels and a 1% maximum yearly increase if considered necessary by the KFPD Board.

Over the years, the KFPD volunteer firefighters, board of directors and supporters have been good stewards of public funds and an energetic body of fundraisers. However, new and enhanced regulatory requirements and standards for training and equipment require more funding than is available at the current assessment level.

Adequate funding is necessary for; repairing and replacing aging vehicles and equipment, funding increased costs of fuel, keeping firefighters’ protective gear up to standards, reimbursing KVFD volunteer first responders’ expenses for getting to and from incidents and training, covering increased costs of operating expenses and providing maintenance and utilities for a completed fire station. For 30 years, the Kneeland Volunteer Fire Department has trained rigorously, saved lives, tended injuries, and suppressed fires by responding within minutes to your 911 calls, 24/7. Without the KVFD, emergency response from other districts could be an hour or more away, if even available. The annual $115 “Cal Fire Fee” provides no monetary assistance to the Kneeland Volunteer Fire Department Furthermore a survey of homeowners’ insurance providers indicates that the cost and availability of homeowners’ policies could be adversely impacted by the absence of a Kneeland Volunteer Fire Department.

A “yes” vote on MEASURE L will ensure the continuation of these important public safety services. [2]

—Michael J. Crowley, Michael E. Davis, Richard L. Hardin, Mark Lovelace and Michael Quincan[1]

The district's FAQ

The Kneeland Fire Protection District provided the following "Measure L Frequently Asked Questions" document:

Why do we have a Kneeland Fire Protection District?

Due to the passage of Proposition 13, many years ago, rural areas like ours were forced to form “special purpose districts” in order to obtain the funds necessary to provide basic services not provided by other government entities. In our case, in 1990, we voted to create a Special Fire Protection District whose purpose is fire suppression, prevention, emergency medical response and rescue, for our 38 square mile community. Our tax base is only 417 parcels, a relatively small number for such a large coverage area. This means that our costs are spread over a smaller number of taxpayers than districts with larger populations. Measure L provides for paying only another $1.15 to $1.53 per week to ensure a group of well trained, dedicated, and selfless volunteers can provide these lifesaving services to our community.

Why does the fire department need this new tax?

The cost of maintaining, or replacing, fire apparatus is expensive. The regulatory agencies require regular maintenance and periodic certified pump testing on our fire engines. These engines operate under adverse conditions and can provide 3 to 4 fire attack hose lines, with water pressure from 100 to 225 psi, at 1000 gallons per minute. Even a 25 to 30 year old apparatus costs between $15,000 and $20,000. A new fire engine costs $200,000 to $300,000. From time to time we have received gifts of older equipment and apparatus from other departments. However, of the past 4 acquisitions, 3 of them were purchased with operating funds. We have never been successful in obtaining a grant to purchase a vehicle. We have no savings on hand to replace response vehicles. Increased costs of fuel, training, insurance policies, maintenance, pagers, and firefighter gear (which must be NFPA compliant) all contribute to the need for more funds.

How does the Cal-Fire Fee benefit our fire district?

The Kneeland Fire Protection District receives NO funding from the Cal-Fire SRA Fee.

What about the Helitack at the top of Kneeland?

The Helitack base, at the Kneeland Airport, is manned with Cal-Fire seasonal wild land firefighters, a helicopter pilot and duty officers, but only during fire season, usually June to October (4 to 5 months). There are NO Cal-Fire fire engines based there. It is designed for quick attack to fight wild land fires throughout the county and other areas during a designated fire season, making it a valuable asset for vegetation fires, secluded area rescues and emergency medical-evac transport, but DAYTIME hours ONLY, during fire season. There are no firefighters or helicopter available at the Helitack base the rest of the year.

Without the Kneeland volunteers, any fire engine response for a wild land fire, even during fire season, would be greatly delayed as the average Cal-Fire fire engine response from Fortuna or Trinidad can be well over an hour. During the 8 months of the year that is not wild land fire season, Cal-Fire response to vegetation fires in Kneeland, Maple Creek, and Butler Valley areas can be even longer. Cal-Fire has NO responsibility to respond to medical aids, vehicle accidents or structure fires in the Kneeland jurisdiction or response area.

What about the Fire Station?

The sustainability of the fire department and the safety of the volunteers has been the first priority. After Measure L passes, the Board of Directors will take on the project of launching the first real Capital Campaign to raise the remaining funds needed to erect the Fire Station. A lot of good people have donated generously over many years. The funds were safeguarded at local banks and, in 2008, moved to Humboldt Area Foundation. Funds have been spent on the foundation, power to the site and the land donation associated costs. The current building fund balance is $66,000. Some people ask why we have not earmarked funds from Measure L to pay for a loan to build the fire station. Unfortunately, our district has a $15,000 limit for borrowing. Note that Measure L WILL provide the operating funds needed for Fire Station maintenance and utilities, funds we don’t currently have. [2]

—Kneeland Fire Protection District officials[3]


No official arguments were submitted in opposition to Measure L. If you have an argument that you would like to see posted here, please email the Local Ballot Measure Project staff writer.

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