Meeting held on Measure H
The Lake Valley Fire Protection District held a meeting Wednesday night to educate residents within its boundaries on a proposed parcel tax that would kick in next year.
The tax would increase residential fees by $100 in year one, and by perhaps even more in subsequent years.
Measure H, as the tax will be called on the Nov. 4 ballot, has been proposed to help fund wildfire education, fire hazard reduction, curbside chipping, and fire crew staffing within the fire protection district.
It would also help fund a portion of necessary equipment and facility repairs or replacements at a time when the number of “buildable parcels” has limited future growth and ad valorem property taxes have not increased in recent years, according to the district.
Residents had a chance at the meeting to ask questions or express concerns they have about Measure H, but few spoke up.
One concern raised had to do with the district potentially taking work from local contractors, such as tree removal jobs, among other things.
District officials responded by saying that is not the intent of the measure. Rather, it’s to spur economic development and encourage homeowners to do fire adapted community work.
“I don’t want to compete with local contractors either,” LVFPD Lt. Martin Goldberg said.
If voters do pass Measure H, it would effectively replace an existing special tax of $20 per residential property. The new tax would then be a maximum of $120 per parcel per year when it begins in 2015-16.
That rate would automatically increase in each subsequent fiscal year based on the San Francisco Bay Area Consumer Price Index. The increase would not exceed 3 percent in any given year.
About $1 million is needed to fund the needs specified in Measure H, and Goldberg said the district isn’t asking for more.
“We feel that we’re asking for exactly what we need to maintain the program,” he said.
Goldberg added that the district will continue to seek alternate funding sources even if the measure is passed, so there’s a possibility that the tax might be reduced.
However, if grants are not found, the district needs to find some way to continue paying for its wildfire prevention and suppression programs, he said.
“Without immediate state and federal funding to support the crew, we no longer feel that pulling reserves is an option, especially at the expense of critical services such as fire and EMS,” Goldberg said at the meeting.
Ultimately, it will be up to the voters to decide whether they want to pay an extra $100 per year or more for those services or not. The measure needs to be approved by 2/3 of the voters in order to pass.
For more information on Measure H, go to http://www.lakevalleyfire.org/measure-h.