Kudos to the Brentwood Press for taking the time to learn the issue, investigate the history, talk to firefighters and really understand the problem as opposed to taking an anti-tax measure stance regardless of the consequences.
Unlike the Contra Costa Times Editorial Board who are lazy by essentially providing a copy and paste job by the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, the Brentwood Press explained many things that the Times left out or cared not to share in order to present their opinion as fact.
Brentwood Press did their homework and presented facts in their opinion. Here are a couple of highlights and I’d urge you to wonder over to their site (link below) and read the fully editorial.
- The discussion has included literally dozens of public meetings over more than a decade. The need for standardized service has been confirmed by several reports from fire industry experts, county government analysis and even Local 1230, the union that represents ECCFPD firefighters. All have consistently reached the same conclusion: it is time for far East County to upgrade its fire service.
- District revenue, locked in by 1978’s Proposition 13 at 7 cents on the property-tax dollar, is enough to pay for only the volunteer departments that heroically served the area for decades prior to the onrush of suburbia.
- But even when the two-tier system is adopted, the debt generated by those already in the system will continue to grow until those on the lower tier become the majority of the employees. Even if retirement benefits were eliminated entirely for second-tier employees, years would pass before that would make a significant impact on the district’s bottom line.
- But if Measure S fails in June, the district will run out of money in July. Half the district’s stations will close, and half its firefighters will be laid off. Opponents decry those facts as scare tactics, but although they are scary, they are reality. The political realities also mean that it could be years before a different measure can be agreed to and passed.
- The question is how many firefighters will be on duty while the fixes are put in place. Measure S ensures the current model will stay in place, augmented by the paramedics the public has said it wants on fire engines.
- If Measure S fails, the solutions must be worked out with half the personnel, half the stations, and response times that will jump from six or seven minutes to 14 or 15 minutes or more for half the district’s residents. Homeowners’ insurance for some residents in the Morgan Territory area quadrupled in the wake of the district’s closure of stations in 2010, and some policies were cancelled entirely, threatening the underlying mortgage. The same is likely to happen in other areas of the district should stations close, according to State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
You can read the full editorial by on the Brentwood Press website by clicking here.