East County is entering crunch time on its proposed $197 parcel tax as we are less than 90-days away until the June 5 election. One would think there would be a greater urgency by the ECCFPD to gets its message out to the public rather than allowing its opponents to negatively control the message.
By dragging its feet, out of district anti-tax folks have been able to put ideas in the public’s head about why this tax is not needed and issue irresponsible suggestions of how to reduce funds used by the District—this includes salaries, stations being built, and pensions. The District has failed to even respond to correct such inaccuracies.
For you baseball fans out there, this is similar to the regular season starting Wednesday and your team has not even shown up to spring training yet. For you chess players, you have different pieces in place to play the game. After a few strategic moves, you can hopefully earn a “check mate”. Right now, the ECCFPD is playing a game with anti-tax players and the District has yet to even put its pieces on the table while its opponent is already playing the game.
As you can see, the Districts opponents are already attacking and winning the war of the message to the public. With three stations and twenty four firefighters on the line, they are about to be destroyed (removed) from service unless the District begins to truly campaign for this tax and sell the need.
A recent fire in Discovery Bay a few days ago left a family homeless as they lost everything. I saw a comment on a Facebook page from a smarty pants (who shall remain nameless) which stated “Humm, and ECC was able to do that without a new parcel tax :)” in reference to the District putting out the fire after the house already burned to the ground.
The reality is this comment actually makes the point that under current services, the fire was able to be put out, under a 3-station model and reduced firefighters on duty; other homes probably would have been compromised. More to the point, the fire burned for 40-minutes—meaning there was nothing left, could you imagine a 3-station model responding?
This is a real-life example that the District should use to further make its case why a 3-station model and reduced staff will be dangerous to the public. It should use neighbors and the homeowners to vow for the tax (if they support it). This is a real life situation that could become a reality for others in the future when services are reduced.
Here are three of the biggest head scratchers I’ve personally encountered over the weekend which is just a small sample of the nonsense being put out there.
Salary and pensions should be cut: It’s pretty hard to further cut the lowest paid district in the area. Here is the comparison between ECCFPD and CONFIRE (our sister agency). East County is getting a fabulous deal.
- ECCFPD Fire Engineer: $4,757/mo = $57,084 annual
CONFIRE Fire Engineer: $8,149/mo = $97,788 annual
- ECCFPD Fire Fighter: $4,322/mo = $51,864 annual
CONFIRE Fire Fighter: $7,395/mo = $88, 740 annual
- ECCFPD Fire Captain: $5,028/mo = $60,336 annual
CONFIRE Fire Captain: $9,186/mo = $110,232 annual
Only respond to fire calls to save money: Okay, if the District does this, what happens at car accidents when fire engines are typically on scene first? Paramedics will arrive and be stuck twiddling their thumbs after its determined they need fire services to use the Jaws of Life! Valuable time in the rescue will be lost. What happens if paramedics only respond and they can’t get into a house? Fire is needed with a ladder or ax to get into a home/building.
This suggestion puts people at risk and gets people killed!When responding to an emergency call, one cannot predict the atmosphere of the scene in question until on scene, at that point, it may be to late which is why fire, police, ambulance all respond accordingly.
More to the point, one should first understand that fire fighters are not paid by the call, they are paid by the shift. So if you really want them sitting around playing cards and doing very little then use this suggestion because it’s a waste of our money and resources that are a productive part of our community.
If there is a budget problem, why did they build the Oakley station? This is an argument that compares apples to oranges because this one has to do with funding and what can be spent on buildings vs. staff salaries. Simply put, the ECCFPD did not build or pay for the station and it cost the District nothing which wipes out this complaint. The City of Oakley built the replacement station with fees collected from new development over the past years. The station then was turned over to the District. Simply put, the District didn’t pay a dime; developers did through the Fire Facilities Impact Fee Fund.
ECCFPD is trying to win votes by a fear campaign: This could not be further from the truth. The reality is if I was the ECCFPD, I’d of gone fear campaign from day one and emotionality hit people with facts and figures that made my case. Unfortunately, the District was not allowed to do that and have been stuck in educational mode. If they were allowed to, they could put fear in every single house hold with real life examples to win votes—but they haven’t done that. They have been by the book which has to be hard since they have personally put in 2+ years of their lives into this solution.
Parcel Taxes are not tax deductible: As someone who hates taxes and refuses to vote for them, this is the first tax increase I’ve supported because it’s the responsible thing to do for our community given the circumstances. With that said, this tax-deductible status is the oddest argument against a $197 a year tax I’ve heard yet. This is also a stretch argument because how much are you really going to get back from $200? Maybe $10-15 tops? To me, this is a greedy argument by penny pincher’s when you are talking about closing 3-stations and laying off 24-firefighters. Honestly, this argument makes me chuckle when it’s brought up by people who are anti-tax anything folks. Sometimes being responsible costs a little bit extra and there are times where responsibility outweighs anti-tax values.
With so much misinformation flying around, the District has its work cut out for them to sell people who already have an idea in their head of how they will vote. The out of District anti-tax folks have already emotionally hit people by not even providing accurate facts and figures—because they hit people emotionally, they win “no” votes. The District has yet to figure this out and instead did the “educational thing” 20-something times which hit a small percentage of its target audience.
Remember, when you hit people emotionally, they will feel it. When you hit people educationally, unless they practice it daily, they will forget it because their is no impact emotionally to it.
With less than 90-days left, the District has an entire service district of voters it has to hit with very little time. A website would be a nice start, but it had better hit people emotionally when it does its selling. I’d also encourage the mobilization of citizens to walk with firefighters to talk to voters to sway public opinion.
With so much at stake, the time to begin selling this parcel tax is now! The time to issue rebuttals against the lies and half-truths needs to start now! Delaying much longer ensures this tax will fail and we can kiss 24-firefighter jobs goodbye.
This is our community and the time to fight for our fire services starts now!
The reality and sad part about this whole anti-tax movement is those against this tax want to punish the District with a “no vote” for asking voters for $197 when the reality is the only people it punishes is their friends and family with reduced services which puts them in danger.
It’s pretty sad people cannot see the big picture and long term effects.