Newcastle Fire Protection District Parcel Tax, Measure B (March 2012)
Measure B levies a $146.46 annual tax on parcels in the district. Any parcel with a structure in excess of 3,000 square feet will be assessed an additional $0.05 per square foot for the structure area greater than 3,000 square feet. The tax rate can also grow up to 3% per year based on the Consumer Price Index.
Property owners in the district were already paying a parcel tax of $68 to $72 each year at the time Measure B was approved. The combined parcel tax, once Measure B was approved, went to $214.46 to $218.46.
The revenue from the proposed parcel tax will be used to:
- Build a replacement firehouse.
- Pay higher wages to the district's firefighters.
The district's current firehouse has been in use since 1922. Regulators determined in 2011 that the building was no longer a safe structure for use as sleeping quarters for the firefighters, although it can still be used to store the district's firefighting equipment. The firefighters sleep in a travel trailer that is located near the firehouse. The firehouse was damaged in 2006 when a fire engine ripped off its lightbar. Several beams were then installed to jack up the second floor.
The fire district had an annual budget of $343,000 in 2010-2011. The district has six paid employees. Volunteer firefighters augment the paid staff.
- Election results are from the Placer County elections office as of 5:30 a.m. on March 7, 2012
- Michael Leydon supported Measure B. Like other supporters, he was worried that the district would have to entirely close without the funds for a new fire station. The district's current fire station, which houses the district's fire engines and firefighting equipment, is in a condemned building.
- Bob Sterns, the president of the Newcastle Fire Protection Board, said, "There is no other place that we could actually move to to continue the fire service. If we won’t be able to house our fire station, we will have to close our doors."
- Howard Willey, Jr., of Newcastle, supported Measure B. He said, "We see fires every summer and they can get out control very quick. It’s just comforting to have the fire department close by."
- Erica Moore supported Measure B. She said that the additional $146.46/year parcel tax is less than she would have to pay in increased fire insurance on her residence if the fire district does shut down.
- John Brassfield, a Newcastle resident, opposed Measure B. He agreed that a new fire station should be built, but he said there are better ways to go about doing that. Brassfield served on the board of the fire district from 2005-2007. According to Brassfield, "My position is that all of their comments and their signs and everything that say ‘Save the Newcastle Fire Department’ are a scare tactic. The Newcastle Fire Department is not going away."
- Karen Floyd, another Newcastle resident, also opposed Measure B. She said, "I just think this a bad method of funding. I think the county has wasted a lot of dollars. Reaching into our pockets for additional taxes is something I disagree with on principal. I also feel the measure is poorly written. There has not been enough public discussion. I think this has kind of been put under the radar with a lot of fear tactics. This has built in increases into the fee with no real accountability."
The question on the ballot:
|MEASURE B: "To provide local fire protection and rapid emergency response services for the Newcastle Fire Protection District, to replace the old, condemned fire station with a costeffective, safe building, to maintain rapid response times to emergencies, and to keep property insurance rates manageable, shall an annual special tax be authorized with all revenue staying in our community for local fire protection and prevention services and to construct a new fire station?"|