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Vote YES! for Rapid 9-1-1 Emergency Fire Response Services in East Contra Costa County
Vote YES! for Rapid 9-1-1 Emergency Fire Response Services in East Contra Costa County!
A federal grant that kept two of your local East Contra Costa County fire stations open, recently expired and cannot be renewed or extended. Unless new revenue is secured now, two local fire stations must close permanently and 18 Firefighter/EMT positions
will be eliminated.
This would leave 250 square miles and over 100,000 residents in East County with just three fire stations and nine on-duty Firefighter/EMTs to keep us safe. East Contra Costa fire engines are dispatched over 9,500 times per year to provide 9-1-1 fire and emergency response services.
OAKLEY—The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted to seek property owner authorization of a Fire Suppression Assessment that will provide locally controlled funding to prevent further service reductions, permanent station closures and firefighter lay-offs.
Ballots have been mailed in a light green envelope. They are due back by Monday, April 27, when a public hearing will be held and ballots will be tallied to determine the Board’s authority to enact a fire protection and response assessment that will provide stable, locally controlled revenue that cannot be taken away by the state or other agencies.
Assessment ballots issued last summer were not counted as that balloting process was cancelled due to incomplete data, and no assessment was enacted. The new ballot process replaces the process initiated last summer and reflects updated fire protection data for many parcels in the East County area. The updated data reduces the proposed assessments for most East County properties when compared to the assessment considered last summer. Property owners wishing to participate in the balloting process must fill out and return their new ballots this spring, even if they already cast a ballot last summer.
If the benefit assessment is authorized by a majority of property owners and enacted by the District’s Board of Directors, the assessment will fund the cost of keeping five stations open for five years, rather than the three stations that can be funded by current and projected District revenues. This would allow Station 54 in Brentwood to reopen. The station was closed temporarily September 1, 2014.
District revenues, which are heavily dependent on property taxes, decreased 40 percent due to the recession and housing crisis. Significant budget cuts, including salary freezes and increased payroll contributions for pensions, were made.
If the fire suppression assessment is rejected by property owners or the Board of Directors, the District will likely make the Brentwood station closure permanent and be required to close an additional station. Operational changes to call responses and protocols will need to be implemented if the District returns to the three-station model.