SCI Consulting Group presented the results of the survey mailed to about 8,000 registered voters and property owners between October 30, 2011 and November 20, 2011 to accurately evaluate the viability of a benefit assessment and a parcel tax. Over twenty-two percent of the surveys were returned.
Those who received the survey were asked if they would support an additional annual fee of $65, $85 or $110 and the various levels of service each would fund were described.
The responses were broken down into a number of categories including Property Owner Support; Registered Voter Support; Rate and Age; Support by Years in Residence and Rate; Support by Political Party and Rate; and Support by Issues.
Comments in favor of an increased fee included Fire/Medial services are important; fiscal accountability is important; stated amount is reasonable to pay for these services; and received good service in the past. Adverse comments included salaries/benefits are too high; district doesn’t need the money; no more/new taxes; economic issues, mistrust of government agencies.
The study concluded that local fire protection is important to the community, but found neither a benefit assessment nor a parcel tax would likely pass. The CSI Consulting Group suggested that even a strong advocacy campaign would not achieve the support levels needed for a successful revenue measure. In particular, residents are concerned about the cost of firefighter salaries and benefits, including pensions.
The SCI Consulting Group recommended that the District not proceed with a funding measure at this time and instead conduct comprehensive, long term public outreach to increase public understanding of the need for better fire protection services. The SPFD board may take action on how to proceed at the next regular meeting which is February 15.
The South Placer Fire Board will hear and discuss the results of the survey mailed to approximately 5,000 residents to gather input regarding future operations of the fire department. The agenda item will be for information only. The meeting will be held at the Eureka Road Fire Station at 7:00 PM on January 18.
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 12/7/11: The SPFD contracted with SCI to survey about 8,000 residents served by the SPFD concerning the financial status of the fire district. Sometime in January, the SPFD will hold a public meeting to discuss the results of the survey. Contact 791-7059 for date, time, and place.
The SPFD contracted with SCI to survey about 8,000 residents served by the SPFD concerning the financial status of the fire district. Sometime in January, the SPFD will hold a public meeting to discuss the results of the survey. Contact 791-7059 for date, time, and place.
At its regular meeting on March 16, the SPFD Board voted 3-1 (one absent) to hire SCI Consulting Group to conduct an initial assessment to create an ongoing new revenue source to fund its operational and facility needs. The most likely new revenue source is a new benefit assessment or parcel tax, and the company specializes in opinion research specifically tailored to address the unique aspects of a mailed weighted ballot benefit assessment.
Benefit assessment districts circumvent Prop 218 which says a parcel tax must be approved by 2/3 vote. By doing a mailed weighted ballot benefit assessment 50% plus 1 of the RETURNED BALLOTS will pass a special tax, and similar agencies have turned to this post 218 method to raise taxes for fire protection and emergency services where districts are finding it difficult to fund salaries, benefits, and pensions. (The mosquito abatement assessment special tax was passed in Placer County this way and the amount appears on property tax bills.)
Phase I will cost the SPFD $24,000 and is an analysis of the District including parcels by type and location, property ownership, property attributes, fire and emergency service needs and other factors that may influence the proposed new funding measure. After the preliminary fire assessment methodology and ballot measure strategic plans are reviewed, a survey is mailed to affected property owners. Proposed fire assessments and weighted ballot “votes” for each property owner will be integrated into the survey and opinion research. The findings will be analyzed and strategic recommendations for an assessment ballot to garner property owner approval for a new benefit assessment tax will be developed for review by the District.
At this point, the Board has the opportunity to decide whether the survey results favor proceeding with an assessment mailed ballot measure or a parcel tax, what rate to propose and when to conduct the mailed ballot proceeding. If, after analyzing the results of the returned surveys, the District elects to proceed with Phase II, there will be an additional cost of about $70,000.
NOTE: This assessment is considered a benefit to the property and revenue raised cannot be used to fund the ambulance service which accounts for 75% to 80% of the calls. In 2010-11, revenue from this source amounted to $943,318. In 1981, residents voted for an annual special assessment of $70 which has provided additional revenue every year and which accounted for $662,494 this budget year. This income, plus property taxes, fees, rentals, interest, etc., provided revenue of $7,352,158 for 2010-11.
The Director who voted against hiring a company to survey residents to determine how they would vote noted the fire district is doing a good job. However, he felt the economic situation in the country has changed and a better, more efficient job could be done to reduce costs. He did not feel raising taxes for revenue was the way to go. The Granite Bay Community Association will update members as this matter goes forth.