ECCFPD Recap: No Sunset Clause Included in Parcel Tax

By way of a 6-3 vote, the ECCFPD will not be including a Sunset Clause in the Parcel Tax measure. This means that potentially, this tax will forever be taxed on residents of East Contra Costa County.

In doing the math, at 10 years worst case scenario for voters is the total parcel tax comes to $257 per year by year 10. The board does have the option each year to choose any yearly amount from 0-$197 (+ any increase up to the cap at that year). It would double every 30 years.

The debate came after President Romick suggested that a big concern at the Townhalls was the lack of inclusion of a Sunset Clause. He made the suggestion that there be a 10 year sunset and let the board then either extend it or put it back to a vote of East County residents.

Director Barr looked at the budget, and stated that in Year 11, there would be a nearly $12 million deficit and could not vote for a sunset because it would put a future board in the same position they are in now.

Director Anderson echoed Barr’s statements as she stated she would never want to tie the hands of the board like our hands are tied now.

Director Stonebarger said a sunset would be nice to have, but could not vote for it based on the numbers. He said he was afraid of a sunset due to the budget projections.

Director Morgan on the other hand opposed not including a sunset. She talked about public trust. She explained that after ten years, we should ask the voters if we have done a good job to deserve an extension. We should be asking voters “would you like to continue”.

Director Frazier stated that without a sunset, it’s not fair to the voters and it will not pass. He noted that after 10 years, there should be an option to either extend or rescind the parcel tax based on where the economy will be then.

No Vote for Sunset – Anderson, Barr, Brockman, Bryant, Kenny, Stonebarger

Yes Vote for Sunset – Frazier, Romick, Morgan

 

Special Meeting Scheduled
The ECCFPD has scheduled a special meeting of the Board that will be held on February 27 to discuss final ballot language and other tidbits.

Ballot Language Released
This language will be on the June 5, 2012 Ballot

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%.

The focus from the board came in Section 3 of this ballot measure which allows the Board to essentially pick from $0-$197 or the cap based on the annual 3% option to increase as stated below.

Section 3. Annual Levy.

The Board of Directors shall annually by an affirmative vote of at least a majority of its members establish the amount of the special tax levy, in an amount that does not exceed the maximum amount specified in Section 2 of this ordinance. The special tax shall not be measured by value of the property.

Service Call Recap
According to Chief Henderson, the District had 626 calls for the month of January. Of those calls, 59 were fire, 408 medical, and 159 were public service. They received about 100 more than last January.

In January, there were 26 calls for auto-aid with 36 units provided by CONFire. ECCFPD provided 17 responses with 20 units in aid to other agencies.

Trench Rescue
There was a brief update from the trench rescue as the Chief informed the Board that the victim was released today from the hospital. A small discussion took place asking why Moraga-Orinda responded and why we didn’t have a trench rescue team. The chief explained that each district has different specialties based on needs—ours would be water with our boat as we would assist CONFIRE and others.

Grant Update
The Chief informed the Board that although the District won two grants recently, they did not win on a grant that would have provided funding for a ladder truck. They received the rejection letter from FEMA. They will apply again next year. They are also working on a “Safer Grant” that would provide funding for additional personnel.

Upcoming Public Outreach Schedule
When it is all said and done, the District will have provided 20-22 outreach meetings to inform the public about this parcel tax, below is a list of upcoming meetings.

February

  • 02/07/12 Delta Soroptomist, Brentwood, 7:15 PM
  • 02/11/12 Westmont of Brentwood, 10:30 AM
  • 02/16/12 Town Hall Meeting – Brentwood City Council Chambers 6:30 PM
  • 02/22/12 Town Hall Meeting – Knightsen Garden Club 7:00 PM
  • 02/23/12 Town Hall Meeting – Oakley City Hall, 6:30 PM
  • 02/29/12 Town Hall Meeting – San Joaquin Yacht Club – Bethel Island, 6:30 PM

March:

  • 03/01/12 Town Hall Meeting – CSD, Discovery Bay, 6:30 PM
  • 03/22/12 Oakley Chamber of Commerce @ Black Bear Diner, 12:00 PM
  • 03/26/12 Brentwood Rotary Club @ Nines, 1:00 PM
  • 03/27/12 Discovery Bay Chamber of Commerce

Response to Grand Jury
The Board finalized their draft response to the Contra Costa Grand Jury. Due to the length of the response, you can read the final draft by clicking here

Director Morgan hopes that this response can be posted on their website and sent to all the newspapers.

Q&A to be Posted?
Director Barr made a request that all the questions and answers be posted somewhere for the public to read.  The staff will look into it.

Parcel Tax for Non-Profits
The question had been brought up whether or not non-profits would be charged a parcel tax for the land they own. The answer per legal was yes as the only entity excluded from a parcel tax is government agencies.  The board does have the option to build in an amendment to the language where they can have the authority to exclude on a special case-by-case non-profits and others from the pay increase.

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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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4 Responses to ECCFPD Recap: No Sunset Clause Included in Parcel Tax

  1. Bob says:

    The sunset clause was a “feel good” that was divorced from the fiscal reality and underlying funding problem. The revenue shortfall was identified many years BEFORE the housing price peak and it wasn’t going to go away with any housing recovery. The problem at its root is we fund at a approx 7% rate when ConFire funds at nearly 2x that amount.

    I’m unaware of any fiscal forecast from the County Administrator or Wall St firms that suggest we might see any real meaningful recovery in housing over the next decade. There just isn’t any “next big thing” out there to drive it.

    Stonebarger has it right in noting that the amount is a cap which can be adjusted downward as property revenues recover in future years so that the District is not just overbuilding reserves on the backs of the rate payers.

    it should be noted that we’re not reinventing the wheel here. Orinda-Moraga has had a similar sliding revenue feed w/cap for awhile now.

  2. jeff b says:

    It is a good bet that the proposed ECCFPD supplemental tax will fail. It is too open ended, it does not provide fundamental solutions, it pits community against community, it does not take in leveraging opportunities…and the the 66% bar is just too high for something this nebulas and controversial.

    I am of the firm opinion that right now this plan for a new tax needs to be pulled (before it fails at the ballot box) and the whole mess needs to go back to the BoS. Although they have done a terrible job of dealing with the two county fire departments unfortunately they are the only ones who, in my opinion, can deal with the situation in the manner and time frame necessary to effect the kind of real change needed to position the county’s fire/EMS service for success into the future. The BoS needs to step back in and devise a bold solution. That solution is a brand NEW fire/EMS department.

    Key Point….I do not think a simple merger of Con Fire and ECCFPD is the solution. The solution must be a NEW fire/EMS entity that pulls from the predicate districts but uses a new reality approach to organization, configuration, compensation, financing and taxation. This will not be simple or pain free but the pain associated with the status quo and a failed tax measure is likely a lot worse.

    This is a slightly refined/expanded suggestion that was made to the new fire board two years ago:
    A) Construct a brand new fire/EMS department, completely getting rid of Con Fire and the ECCFPD. The county will have to deal with the residual.
    B) Disband the county internal EMS department as we know it (put the savings on the street).
    C) Put EMS under the new fire department and start/develop and association with a regional EMS agency (there are already 5 of these in the state).
    D) Implement a P-District/Zone like fire/EMS operation tax for all new tract developments (pantages et al) under county control. Seek an agreement from the cities to do the same.
    E) Configure fire crews, EMS and response times strategically, tactically and individually for each unique area. The same crew size/configuration for every area should NOT be an expectation.
    F) Put on a future ballot a incremental tax plan (if necessary) that is calculated after the implementation of A through E.

    Key Point…..In part A of the suggested plan outline the basic premiss would have to be that Con Fire’s current pay/benefit plan would NOT be the overlay for the new fire department. A tiered pay/benefit plan would have to be developed based on current times, reality and a realistic outlook that can be paid for without racking up huge dept (i.e. Morgana Orinda Fire’s $68B debt) or recreating the pattern of ongoing financial failure the two current fire departments have exhibited.

    I believe a new well structured fire/EMS department would bring long-term stability to the employees and be a tangible/smart solution that residents county wide would rally around and feel better about investing additional tax resources (if necessary) into. But to get to that point the BoS needs to step-up now. If they don’t they will have to shoulder a big part of the blame when the tax measure fails.

  3. Bob says:

    One more time, Jeff.

    THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS IS UNDER NO LEGAL OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE YOU WITH FIRE SERVICES.

    Please explain why you think ConFire serviced people would dilute their resources or tolerate the 2x per capita contribution from their district for your benefit. Until you can do that, you’re speeding down a dead end street.

    Maybe you rammed that sort of policy approach down the throats of your employees in the corporate world, but out here where there’s accountability at the ballot box your junk doesn’t fly.

  4. jeff b says:

    So if the bos is not legally obligated to provide ‘me’ with fire services then I would assume by your logic they are not ‘legally’ obligated to provide con fire people either. Right? But that is not a point I put any stock into and the person who posted this, although entitled to any personal opinion he or she wants should refrain from speaking from a point of false authority or writing/posting things intended to defame private citizens. This topic is too important to continue this pattern of behavior.

    It is my opinion that making statements about there being no ‘legal obligation’ to provide fire services is simply a diversion and obfuscation. And sorry to say that I think that tactic hurts the district’s employees opportunity for more stable job situation.

    I pay almost 8.5% of my 1% tax to fire. Are you saying categorically that you are making the 2x proclamation based on knowing all the tax allocation rates for both districts? I didn’t think so. I have read on this site statements that say I pay 5%…which is false and misleading. I have also read the bogus statment that others pay more ‘tax’. Those false statements have not been corrected. It seems to me that if one has to base a campaign for a new tax on a series of false and misleading statements then there is likely something really bad going on.

    And to the point of accountability at the ballot box…I agree 100%. The chicken bos politicians who have run away from this issue should face the maximum voter penalty.

    It comes down to a fairly straight forward choice…stick with the status quo, probably see the tax fail and fail or not the fundamental problems/inefficiencies will still exist. Or, step back and embrace this opportunity to create a (new) leveraged district that is designed to function in the present and into future in a more realistic and more responsible way.

    Why buy-into the bos projectionist route when logic and an open-eyed look at the real world shows us so much opportunity for a better set of solutions?

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