Other Funding Methods to be Considered in Replacing Special Fire Tax - Mountain News : News

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Other Funding Methods to be Considered in Replacing Special Fire Tax

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Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019 9:00 am

6/20/19 - Clarification: The press release from Supervisor Dawn Rowe below is discussing a vote to consider other possibilities for funding the county fire department. Should any acceptable ideas by found, they can be added to an upcoming below and voted in to replace the FP-5 fire tax. The 3% increase to the FP-5 fire tax was disallowed during the same meeting.

6/24/19 - From Janice Rutherford, supervisor of the second district: "I have consistently said voters should have been given the chance to vote on the expansion of FP-5. The compromise I proposed will give voters the opportunity to decide what they’re willing to pay for the level of fire and emergency services provided by San Bernardino County Fire."

San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe recently voted to end the controversial special tax known as FP-5, which partially funds the San Bernardino County Fire Department operating budget. Rowe was joined by Supervisors Curt Hagman, Josie Gonzales and Janice Rutherford in supporting the measure.

FP-5 was originally presented by Fire Chief Mark Hartwig, who has since relocated to work in Santa Barbara. FP-5 was a solution to the county’s $29 million dollar budget shortfall for the Fire Protection District, which covers “19,278 square miles and serves more than 60 communities/cities,” according to the www.sbcfire.com. Also according to www.sbcfire.com, FP-5 was designed to tax “each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5” for $157.26/year... [and could] increase up to 3% each year.”

The proposed fire tax was then put to a protest vote, where a certain percentage of affected homeowners, who controlled a certain percentage of affected land, would have to mail in a protest form to get the tax put on a ballot or “killed” outright.

During a meeting on Tuesday, June 11, the Board of Supervisors supported a motion by Rutherford to end the FP-5 special tax, requiring the County’s Chief Executive Officer, Gary McBride, to report back to the board in 90 days with funding alternatives to pay for county fire services. At that point, the board will consider placing the preferred alternative on the November 2020 General Election ballot for a vote of the people.

“Property owners deserve to have a voice in this process, which is why I believe FP-5 should be put before the public for a vote,” Rowe said. “I understand that taxpayers must fund basic government services like fire protection, but they should have an opportunity to weigh in on how much of their hard-earned dollars are collected by the county,” she added.

In addition, Rowe added a provision that eliminated the 3% proposed increase to the FP-5 special tax that would have taken effect in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

“Removing the proposed tax increase was the right move in light of the serious concerns I have over how the FP-5 assessment was imposed on citizens. I couldn’t, in good conscience, support the increase before the public has a chance to vote on the matter,” explained Rowe.

In a video posted to Rowe’s supervisor Facebook page, Rowe explained more about her history with the tax.

“Before I was appointed to your county supervisor position, I was a private citizen that spoke out pretty passionately against FP-5, Fire Protection 5 zone, and a vote that annexed in a large portion of the county. It did not have representation that we all believe in,” Rowe said.

In the video, Rowe also spoke of the future.

“Moving forward, the board of supervisors is committed to finding funding to help fire with a vote of the citizens,” Rowe said. “We will take the next three months and study the different options and present them to voters so that you all have a say in your government and how we move forward…. I thank you to everyone who reached out…. Your voices were heard and every vote does really count. I encourage you to continue reaching out to our offices.”

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • deer posted at 9:56 am on Mon, Jun 24, 2019.

    deer Posts: 2

    County fire needs to clean up their spending habits before they start taking OUR money. The toys they buy, their pay and pension is absolutely ridiculous. That tax was a total ripoff crammed down our throats. Thankfully common sense prevailed.

  • Virginia posted at 2:39 pm on Fri, Jun 21, 2019.

    Virginia Posts: 1

    The Fire Tax felt like taxation without representation. The tax should have gone to a vote in the first place. I as a realtor know property values have increased to the 2003 or more levels, unlike the decline in property values after 2008. Therefore, it seems there should be enough revenue from our current taxes to fund the needs of our fire departments now. Everyone lost in the recession, retirement accounts, homes, school funding, everyone. But NOW is quite different