You will be receiving in the mail in the next day or two Your Ballot from the North County Fire Protection District that reads:
To avoid a significant reduction in the level of services presently being provided to residents throughout north San Diego County, shall the North County Fire Protection District be authorized to levy a special tax at a flat rate of $5/month ($60/year) per parcel of property owned, to be used for construction, capital improvements and deferred maintenance of fire stations, raising approximately $1 million per year, with an initial appropriations limit of $20 million, and independent annual audits and citizen oversight required?
The funding Measure is called: Proposition ‘A’ (or Prop A). Assuming Prop A receives requisite voter support needed for passage, these monies will be used to address a set of fiscal challenges that, if not addressed soon, will result in a significant reduction in levels of such services as fire protection, paramedic and ambulance services, and other services that the District presently provides to residents throughout north San Diego County.
Why is Additional Funding Needed?
Most of these financial challenges stem from initiation of a paramedic ambulance program nearly 30 years ago, without seeking taxpayer support. There has since been a significant increase in the number of calls for emergency medical service, made worse by closure of Fallbrook Hospital in 2014. In order to maintain adequate levels of service, the District has been forced to subsidize paramedic ambulance service; in turn, forcing the District to reallocate its available funds. This resulted in a significant delay in fire station construction, fire engine & other capital equipment purchases, as well as increasing the District’s deferred facility maintenance. This is exacerbated by the fact that 7 of the District’s 11 facilities (including 4 of its 5 fire stations) have exceeded (or are nearing) their “useful life,” which is 50 years. One fire station is in a mobile home and the District’s training facility is in a modular building.
There’s Nowhere Else to Cut
District officials have taken major strides in an effort to reduce operating costs. There’s literally nowhere else to cut without negatively impacting the levels of service being provided through the fire protection and emergency services District.
Multiple Alternatives were Investigated
Before making a decision to ask local voters to authorize a modest tax to address these fiscal challenges, District officials looked at various alternatives for addressing these growing challenges. These included: (i) station closures: (ii) reducing the fire protection District’s work force (including firefighters, paramedics, and support staff; (iii) reorganizing ambulance services; (iv) consolidate the NCFPD with neighboring fire protection and emergency service agencies or cities; among others. However, each one had a downside that exceeded the upside.
Residents were Asked for their Input
Further, rather than simply placing a funding Measure on the local ballot without seeking input from the community, the District commissioned a scientific survey of registered voters and property owners. Respondents to the survey were told of the Districts pressing fiscal challenges and asked: (i) would you be willing to authorize such a tax, and (ii) how much would you be willing to pay to make it possible for the District to address these needs, thus avoid having to make cut-backs in the level of services being provided to residents throughout the region. The answer was $5/month, which amounts to $60/year per parcel of property owned within the District’s service area. District officials listened; which explains why the “ask” is $5/mth ($60/yr per parcel of property owned) in the upcoming funding Measure.
District officials want to provide answers to any and all questions/concerns that local residents may have regarding Prop A. Thus, if you have questions, please visit the NCFPD website at: https://www.ncfireprotectiondistrict.org/ and click on ‘Prop A’. Or, you are welcome to contact Fire Chief Steve Abbott at [email protected] or call him at: (760) 723-2012. Of course, you are welcome to stop into NCFPD headquarters at: 330 S Main Ave, Fallbrook.