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ConFire Places Parcel Tax Measure on Ballot

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District board on Tuesday placed a $75 per parcel per year parcel tax measure on the November ballot.

A looming financial crunch and the potential loss of service capability and stations within the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District drove a 4-1 board decision asking residents for an extra $75 per year to help defray costs.

Tuesday's bid to place the parcel tax measure on the November ballot was not made lightly, district officials said. Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville was the holdout vote in the 4-1 decision.

The district provides fire service in unincorporated areas outside Pinole city limits and by contractual agreement coordinates with the Pinole Fire Department for mutual response in those areas and within Pinole when needed.

If approved by the voters in November, the $75 per parcel per year tax is expected to generate an additional $16.8 million a year and enable the district to maintain service, which is suffering due to eroding property tax revenues.

"Asking the voters to support a revenue measure is a last resort during this tough economy," United Professional Fire Fighters of Contra Costa County President Vince Wells said in a prepared statement. "But it is a critical piece of the long term plan to make up for essential revenue lost from property taxes and to maintain the 9-1-1 emergency services that keep our community safe."

The district, known by its shorthand name of ConFire, ranks among the 14 largest metropolitan fire agencies in the state.

It provides fire and emergency medical services to nine cities and serves a population of 600,000 across a 304-square-mile area with 30 fire stations.

If approved, the tax would go into effect July 1, 2013 and end June 30, 2020. Without it, fire Chief Daryl Louder said the district would have to close between seven and 10 fire stations and lay off firefighters.

Kathryn August 01, 2012 at 03:18 PM
This is to pay for their huge pensions, with a gun to our heads. It should be a criminal offense. This attitude of "pay us more, or we will leave you without the fire protection you've paid for" is an absolute insult. They should be in prison for scamming the system. Shameful.
None August 01, 2012 at 04:05 PM
So, someone is considering another tax! Has anyone noticed how many new taxes are going to be on the ballot this fall? Our Governor wants “More!” Our County wants “More!” Our local School District wants “More!” And our Fair City wants “More!” Everyone claims this is because of “Hard Times.” Evidently, these “Hard Times” only have an effect on Government, not on the folks paying the bill. The citizens didn’t put us into this economy, our “Enlightened Politicians” and several layers of bureaucrats did and now “We” have to bail them out? I don’t think so. We don’t need a train to nowhere, we don’t need a tunnel under the delta and we don’t need any more taxes, what we need is some leadership at all levels of government and I don’t see too much of that in the news. Perhaps Nancy Reagan had it right, “Just Say No!”
Redrock August 01, 2012 at 04:30 PM
And the outcome is always the same… Fear and panic throughout the community! IF we don’t pass [or extend] the tax measure we will be subject to potential threats to our public safety and property. Everyone’s house is going to burn down while Granny gets mugged on Pinole Valley Road by an angry high school student, who should have been in class that day, but due to the large classroom size he didn’t have a desk to sit in… In the meantime, the retired police, fire and teacher are playing shuffle board on the Liddo Deck on a carnival cruise line. This is the painfully reality of what these measure are funding!
Marcia Kalapus August 01, 2012 at 10:18 PM
RELAX , everyone, the Con Fire tax ONLY applies to central county and our unincorporated areas of El Sobrante ,Tara Hills, Montalvin Manor, and North Richmond. And it is true, their agency has a HUGH deficit in their pension and health care retirement fund, which they are not funding as much as they should be. .
Let's be Strategic August 05, 2012 at 06:57 PM
There are two sides to this issue and the anti-tax folks are having a field day making their points. I don't agree with most of their statements. Here is a counter point that I read on another blog. I urge the public to get informed on this critical issue. From East County Reader: So you ask why should you give up 75.00? Here is a simple answer. Because your PROPERTY TAXES which make up all of the funding for Fire Services have been REDUCED for 3 years straight. Simple economics dictates that not only have you saved more than 75.00 but the fire department has lost far more than that in revenue. Pretty simple! In most cases voters/homeowners/taxpayers are seeing hundreds and in many cases thousands in reductions. That means the TAXPAYER is paying a LOT less in taxes and yet the services have NOT been reduced-yet. Let me ask you a question; how long do you think the budget could have stayed balanced or how long do you think their financial reserves could hold up when it is a FACT that WE are not maintaining the funding that they rely on for operational costs. It doesn’t matter really matter what “public” service we are talking about, with one monumental exception; The fire department is the only one that operates entirely from property tax money! If you paid attention, read any of the material available or watched ANY of the hearings you would know this because it was all explained very clearly. It is FACT, not my “opinion”. I agree!
Kathryn August 05, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Without serious pension reform, I will vote no for any more funds. Get your house in order first, then we'll talk.
None August 05, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Without even considering our Federal Government and all of their several agencies, California alone has more than 500 different Departments, Agencies, Bureaus, Commissions, Boards and so forth. Our County also has a number of these activities and our City has a few too. Each one of them is funded by an income tax, state taxes, a sales tax, a license fee, property taxes, parcel taxes, utility taxes, or any number of other taxes or fees which become a cost to the Taxpayer. Each employee of these several organizations is covered a Retirement plan, a Health Plan and in most cases a better salary than is available in the Private Sector. Someone better start thinking, are these costs are sustainable? In Vallejo, Stockton, San Bernadino and perhaps a few other cities, they decided they could not continue to pay these costs and they have declared Bankruptcy. When is enough going to be enough? Government has grown to a size that can no longer be sustained and we have to consider a major change. How much of our income will go to pay for all of this? It’s probably much more than we think and perhaps it’s time we all give this some thought. Take a look at your November Ballot and you will see multiple propositions for more of the same. It’s time to just say “NO!”
SalthePlumber August 05, 2012 at 10:30 PM
The wages and fringes, including retirement plans are the result of Collective Bargaining. That means there are two sides to this. Sure, First Responders are being looked at warily, because of the rise in costs, especially since 9-11. Who agreed to those increases? Our elected politicians, thats who. When things are Booming and everyone has stars in their eyes, nobody notices. When the Recession (Depression, really) came on and all government revenue dropped, the contracts became newsworthy and a popular topic for taxpayers and axe grinders. The bottom line is this: Do you want to pay $75 extra to insure adequate Fire Protection, or are you willing to roll the dice. Dont forget that your Homeowner's Insurance Co will surely grasp this issue as a means of justifying a Premium Increase, which DOESNT include a Fire Truck and Firemen. A lousy choice you say, but visit a fire scene and think about it...
None August 06, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Ah yes, it’s all the result of “Collective Bargaining.” I have been involved in this process for several years and my observation has been that there are usually people on either sides of the table conducting these negotiations, I hope in “Good Faith.” There are those who are representing their constituents, their organization, their company or their union members and I only hope someone is there representing me. My question is, when someone is running for an office, who do they represent? It appears that they represent the unions. Who represents the taxpayer in these negotiations? I have failed to see anyone representing me. Take a look at the situation at the State level, the County level and the School District level and then, the City level in these negotiations. Who represents the resident, the taxpaying local citizen and where is their motivation to, “Just Say No?” Take a look at the November ballot and tell me who will be the winning party in this fiasco.
SalthePlumber August 06, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Richard, you answered your question. You and every other Taxpayer are represented by the elected officials who spend our taxpayer dollars. End of story. Dont like those elected officials, try to get new people to office or run for office yourself! Cant find an elected officeholder who doesnt represent unions??? Move to Arizona or Utah or Alaska or Wyoming. Get Thee to Texas, that oughta make you happy...
Raul Ramero August 06, 2012 at 07:59 AM
Part 1 I find it amazing how uninformed and out of touch from reality some people are. Always quick to point the finger and blame someone else! Amazing how quick we forget that the economic down turn began with Wall Street, Banks, Big Business, and Large Corporations. We can’t let these banks and businesses fail, but we sure can let the American people fail. Banks got bailed out, but they wouldn’t help restructure loans to keep thousands of Americans in their homes. These banks now own thousands of homes “Bank Owned” and not paying any property taxes!!! But damn those public employees and unions… it’s their fault for this mess! Furthest from the truth, these employees like most working Americans want simple things: competitive wages, good working conditions, good benefits.
Raul Ramero August 06, 2012 at 07:59 AM
Part 2 On pension reform some of you are talking about, what do you want to see? The Pinole employees are paying half of the overall pension contribution (employee and employer contributions). The county firefighters pay a large portion of their pensions as well, you’d know this if you actually researched instead of listening to one side distorted views from that lovely bay area news group! Now on these responses to the county fire tax, it’s real!!! It doesn’t apply to Pinole Tax payers so I don’t understand why some make it seem like it does. The Pinole UUT… real!!! Not a new tax, just an extension of an existing tax already being paid. Loss of this means a further reduction of 20% of city funds once again very real!!!
Raul Ramero August 06, 2012 at 08:00 AM
Part 3 Reading some of these statements make me sick that some are so ignorant! Some informational links below, you’ll see that the county tax is not a Pinole tax, you’ll see the Bay Area News Groups gives their employee’s pensions, Medical etc, Chevron a private company gives their employees “Defined Benefits”. Tesoro Oil employee’s no one makes less than 100k per year then plus tons of overtime… statement from former employee! As you continue to look into the private sector you’ll find that public employees are not the overpaid thieves they’re thought to be! http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_21201908/contra-costa-fire-tax-measure-sent-voters?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_21228953/barnidge-opposed-confire-parcel-tax-alternative-looks-worse?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com http://info.bayareanewsgroup.com/journalism-job-application-openings-listings-sales-positions-hiring/careers http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/archive/index.php/t-317827.html http://careers.chevron.com/brochures/E781.pdf
jon cyr August 06, 2012 at 01:58 PM
R Romero....( banks now own thousands of homes “Bank Owned” and not paying any property taxes!!! ).....I don't think thats fair. Shouldn't banks have to pay property taxes on all property they own?
SalthePlumber August 06, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Thanks Raul for adding facts and figures to the discussion. We are held hostage in some sense by the Pirates of Wall Street. They have so much $$$ that they control the Government at many levels. It is their common Tactic to foster distrust, fear, and misinformation among the Middle Class and wage earners. "Dont look up, look down" and or sideways and blame your neighbor for the "Troubles". Meanwhile the Pirates (sorry Pittsburgh!) are carting off the money by the Billions and Trillions. OK back to the Firefighters. They have already taken reductions and it may be some time before they see real increases in Pay and Benefits. BUT, they are Firemen. A Vital, necessary and Honorable profession and they are Needed in ANY community. Look at the news and ask yourself if you are willing to cut off your nose to spite your face...
Patrick Rei August 06, 2012 at 06:12 PM
The current funding problem stems from many of the things that have been mentioned here and in other discussions. It's unfortunate that the hard working men and women that provide emergency services seem to be in the crosshairs of the media and the angst of so many that have been affected by the economic downturn. The rank and file are indeed contributing more to the cost of their fringe benefits package however with respect to the pension in most cases they are now picking up the employees share that the employer had been covering. The bottom line is that costs continue to increase (not just the pension) and income to cover services has decreased. Just about every defined benefit pension has an unfunded vetsted liability (both public and private collective bargaining), and the fact is they were not truly sustainable during the good times either. We have known for some time that we have been kicking the can down the road and we're finally running out of road. Both sides need to be willing to work towards honest and sustainable reform to fix the imbalances but that can't happen until we can move beyond the rhetoric and mudslinging.
Redrock August 06, 2012 at 10:51 PM
What happens to non-public employees when the stock market tanks…? Their 401K tanks right along with them. What happens to a public-union employee when the stock market tanks….? Absolutely nothing! They will have a source of guaranteed pension for life. Yes, there have been some reforms in which current public-unions are now forced to pay more or have benefits expire. BUT there are tens of thousands of retired pensioners we are fully funding regardless of stock market performance- because they have a PUBLIC UNION guarantee. The sweetheart safety net of all bureaucrats! When the economy tanks, the pensioners get paid and the private citizens are forced to foot their lavish lifestyles through UUT, property tax and whatever BS revenue program the city and state legislature can think of.. You want me to pay an extra 75 dollars…? Fine but every retired, public employee has to forfeit that amount as well from their monthly pension check. … Now that would be shared sacrifice!
George Parsons August 07, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Hey, Rock...might help to read your stuff before you hit submit. Retired government employees will be paying the $75 parcel tax same as you. Retired government employees will pay the UUT if passed. Retired government employees pay property taxes, sales taxes and every other tax that others pay...we also pay taxes on our retirement pensions to both state and federal agencies...I'll keep the $75 per month you propose I forfeit, thanks very much...need the money to support my lavish life style and frequent cruises and of course shuffleboard on the "Liddo" deck. Time for cocktails and caviar...ciao!
Redrock August 07, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Believe me Jorge... I read my post before I sent it. And where do "you" retired government employeess get your pension money? It certainly isn't from your cheap b@st@rd @ss.
None August 07, 2012 at 02:09 AM
I’m not against Firefighters or the police and never have been, no one can place any blame on a Firefighter or a Policeman for this fiscal problem, but there is a problem that is having a very negative effect on our entire tax paying population. We have an unsustainable fiscal problem and the only way to fix it is to change it. Take a look at where “Our” politicians go to get support when they want to get elected. They go directly to the Public Employee’s Unions. They go to the teachers, the prison guards, the service workers and to the nurses for their financial support and then, who determines the benefit package for these represented folks? It just happens to be “Our” Elected Representatives. The problem is, they represent the big dollars that got them elected, but now, who pays the bill? There will have to be some change in this system or we will all be living in a city that has declared bankruptcy.
Redrock August 07, 2012 at 03:56 AM
@RJ And a powerful lobby it is. Less than 1% percent of California’s +/- 30 million population are “public union employees” and guess who has the sweetest deal when it comes to lifelong [taxpayer funded] retirement pension and medical benefits? Do you think for a given minute the tenured members in prison, police and fire who are making close to $200K a year in overtime care about potential cutbacks? This is the greatest financial ponzi scam played against honest tax paying citizens. And they are the same people supposedly protecting us from predators and criminals. They look in the mirror every morning and think they are doing God’s work, when they are robbing us blind! Their biggest rape of society [they are sworn to protect], is "double dipping." They work and retire in one city after 10-15 years, receive full benefits, then start over again in another municipality with the same golden parachute. Liars and thieves every last one of them... Playing the system “ha ha-wink wink” just like Romney… all happening in front of our eyes and tax paying dime!

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