First published June 8, 2011
Monday night the Board of Directors for the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) met for their monthly board meeting. Before much could be discussed Board President Erick Stonebarger, resigned as President effective end of the meeting. He will remain a member of the Board. The discussion quickly turned to “where do we go now?”
Chief Henderson presented a brief review of where we have been: At the May 6 Board meeting, the Board declined to approve a draft engineer’s report related to the imposition of a fire services suppression property assessment after hearing testimony about the limited amounts of funding that the assessment would raise, a lack of community support, concerns about the approach taken by the draft report and suggestions that the Board consider other types of revenue enhancement measures.
A review of revenue followed; 96 % of the District’s revenue is from property taxes and these revenues have declined 22.8% from three years ago and there is not much hope for a recovery of assessed values in the next few years. This revenue source will provide an estimated $8,500,000. The District’s preliminary Operating Budget for fiscal year 2011-12 is $11,111,500. In order to balance the 2011-2012 budget the District will need to borrow $2,650,000 from reserves leaving a reserve fund balance of $742,124. If nothing is done is to increase revenues prior to the 2012-2013 budget year the current service level provided by the district will have to be modified drastically. That led to the next discussion; where will new revenues come from?
State law provides three options for increasing revenue that are available to the District under appropriate circumstances: adoption of a special tax, levy of a special assessment, or the establishment of user fees for cost recovery of certain services.
With the actions taken last month the special assessment option will no longer be considered. The District already collects user fees for cost recovery for auto accidents. These fees net the District approximately $100,000 a year. The next option, and only remaining one, is a parcel tax. To address the parcel tax option the Board appointed a three member subcommittee to create service models and cost options. They will bring this information to a special Board meeting scheduled for June 27.