Oakley Council Correct When Supporting ECCFPD Parcel Tax

The Oakley City Council did the right thing for its resident’s last night by adopting a resolution supporting the placement of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District special tax on the June 5, 2012 ballot while encouraging residents to support the measure. This is a tax that must pass or East County residents will pay much more in the near future!

I am proud that Oakley is joining the fight to help swing votes to ensure this tax passes because they can see the big picture as opposed to saving a few hundred dollars.

The reality is Oakley residents will soon see costs skyrocket on their homeowners insurance should this tax not pass due to inadequate fire service and longer response times. This problem is now compounded with the news yesterday from CONFIRE.

CONFIRE announced yesterday they are now in need $90 parcel tax to keep the status quo or they will lose six-stations. Why this is a big deal for East County residents? It’s rather simple because they provide Oakley and East County auto/mutual aid and we need their resources to ensure service levels are maintained.

Should our parcel tax fail, a majority of East County will see some form of an insurance rate hike, however, with CONFIRE services reduced, it’s a guarantee that ALL residents are ensured a skyrocketed rate as fire services will be extremely limited.

Upon news breaking of this $90 number, I saw that Kris Hunt of the Contra Costa Taxpayer Association is out there complaining wherever she can about pensions and how parcel taxes are not tax deductible as a reason to vote against this tax.

Let me ask Ms. Hunt something? Is there ever a good time to ask voters for a parcel tax? The answer is no. And doing the math, how much can someone really write off for $200? To me, her argument is small and is a non-issue.

The reality Ms. Hunt seems to forget is ECCFPD firefighters save money on their salary compared to other Districts and have had a pay freeze for four-years. These guys have done their part and now as voters we need to do our part to support them.  Honestly, the tax deduction argument is comical to me when we are talking about human lives at stake!

Not to be taken lightly, but the accusation against the District that this is a result of a spending problem is offensive to me because looking at the facts, its clearly a revenue problem.  A special thank you (sarcastically) should be directed at Proposition 13 for this mess because when times were good, we paid the same percentage and not a dime more.

Did you know revenue has gone down 35% since the housing crisis while some taxpayers have had their property tax bill cut in half? Combine that with East County growth and you can see why reserves had to be tapped.

All one has to do is look into the Sunrise Station at Morgan Territory as a real life example.

I wrote in the Oakley Press on February 23, 2012 that Kevin Keeler wrote an opinion piece to a newspaper that his insurance premium jumped from $500 per year to just under $5,000 – a 1,000-percent increase when the Sunrise Station closed. Others had similar stories of rate increases. Under a three-station model, it’s a fact no one will be exempt from a rate increase. If you unfortunately become rated a 10+ by ISO, your mortgage is immediately due – don’t believe me, just ask the three Morgan Territory residents!

This is a 3-station model for East County with CONFIRE as our backup—imagine if we lose our backup sister agency? Yikes! I don’t want to hear this claim of insurance rates as a scare tactic or that ISO is no longer used as the reality is without proper fire service, rates are affected and you can guarantee an increase of some form.

I applaud the City of Oakley for putting their political careers on the line to support this tax because they can look past a few hundred dollars to see the big picture.

I encourage Oakley residents to back up our city council and our firefighters start discussing this tax in a responsible way. Speak about it at the dinner table, at church, at youth events and discuss its benefits going forward. Show its benefits to each homeowner in the form of insurance costs and service levels as that is the only way this tax can pass.

We need to get emotional and show people why this tax is so important and stop telling people what will happen. Make an impact and give it some perspective on how fire services save lives and benefit our community.

Oakley took the first step, now it’s up to the supporters to mobilize. In the end, we will all pay whether it’s with a $200 tax increase or a skyrocketed insurance rate via a lottery system depending on where one lives.

The choice is up to you of how much you want to pay!

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About burkforoakley

I call it like I see it . I love my city, I love my community and I want what is best for the people around me. Do the right thing, I will support you. Do the wrong thing, I will oppose you!
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