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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.