Sunday, January 26, 2020

HUMBOLDT COUNTY: MEASURE R
MARCH 3RD ELECTION


Measure R - SPECIAL TAX
Submitted by: Arcata Fire Protection District

To ensure and maintain fire protection services, including maintaining firefighter positions, and maintaining equipment and vehicle replacement funding, shall the Arcata Fire Protection District Ordinance No. 20-20 increasing the existing special tax rates until June 30, 2030, and raising an estimated $2,200,000 dollars annually with independent citizen oversight, be adopted?

FULL TEXT

AN ORDINANCE OF THE ARCATA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT ADJUSTING THE RATE OF A FIRE PROTECTION SPECIAL TAX IN ORDER TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE QUALITY LOCAL FIRE PROTECTION, RESCUE, AND OTHER ESSENTIAL SERVICES

The people of the Arcata Fire Protection District do ordain as follows:

SECTION 1. Authority. Pursuant to the authority of Government Code Section 53978 and Article XIIIA of the California Constitution, this Ordinance, if passed by two-thirds voter approval, would increase the Arcata Fire Protection District’s existing voter- approved special tax levied for fire protection, rescue, and emergency medical services and would supersede the existing special tax rate of $5 per unit of benefit approved by qualified voters of the District in 1997 (Ordinance No. 97-010).

SECTION 2. Purpose and Intent. The proceeds from this special tax shall be used solely for the purpose of providing fire protection, rescue, and emergency medical services within the District. In particular, the special tax will be used to maintain and improve the current level of community-based fire protection services provided by the District. This includes annual budget support to maintain current firefighter positions, and provide for adequate firefighting equipment, apparatus, and necessary capital improvements, consistent with the needs of the residents of the District and the Fire Protection District Law of 1987.

SECTION 3. Special Tax Rate. Beginning with the 2020-21 fiscal year, the special tax shall be levied at flat rates based on the use of each taxable parcel of real property, in accordance with the schedule below:

Parcel use Category - Total Annual Charge
A. Vacant/unimproved: $30 per year
B. Single-Family Residential: $118 per year
C. Rural Residential/Improved: $192 per year
D. Multi-Family Residential (2-4 units): $309 per year
E. Multi-Family Residential (5-9 units): $388 per year
F. Multi-Family Residential (10+ units): $465 per year
G. Commercial: $546 per year
H. Industrial: $910 per year
I. Retail (10,000 + square feet): $910 per year
J. Mobile Homes: $90 per year

A. Vacant/Unimproved: Any vacant land or unimproved property.
B. Single-Family Residential: A dwelling unit designed for occupancy by one household, located on a single parcel that does not contain any other dwelling unit (except an accessory dwelling unit, where permitted).
C. Rural Residential/Improved: Low-density residential or agricultural structures that generally rely upon onsite water systems, requiring the use of trucked-in water for fire suppression.
D. Multi-Family Residential (2-4 units): 2 to 4 dwelling units within a single building, or structures on a parcel. Types of multiple-unit dwellings include, but are not limited to, duplexes, apartments, condominiums, and bed and breakfasts.
E. Multi-Family Residential (5-9 units): 5 to 9 dwelling units within a single building, or structures on a parcel. Types of multiple-unit dwellings include, but are not limited to, apartments, condominiums, and bed and breakfasts.
F. Multi-Family Residential (10+ units): ten or more dwelling units within a single building, or structures on a parcel. Types of multiple-unit dwellings include, but are not limited to, apartments, condominiums, and bed and breakfasts.
G. Commercial: Commercial or institutional uses including but not limited to stores and retail businesses (less than 10,000 square feet), offices, restaurants and bars, service stations, auto repair, hotels, motels, day care facilities, professional business parks, and similar uses.
H. Industrial: Industrial uses including but not limited to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, recycling, industrial parks, wood products, energy production, and similar uses.
I. Retail (10,000 + square feet): a retail business that occupies 10,000 or more square feet.
J. Mobile Home Site: an area of land within a mobile home park that is rented, or held out for rent, to accommodate a mobile home used for human habitation. A mobile home park is an area of land where two or more mobile home sites are rented, or held out for rent, to accommodate mobile homes used for human habitation. A mobile home is a structure designed for human habitation and for being moved on a street or highway, including, but not limited to, manufactured homes, motor homes, and recreational vehicles.

SECTION 4. Appeals. Any property owner may appeal any determination by the District concerning the nature of the use of the property or the calculation of the amount of the tax by filing a written appeal with the District. Any such appeal shall be filed by December 1st of the calendar year for which the tax is levied. The appeal shall contain a statement by the property owner as to the nature and basis for the appeal in accordance with the District’s appeal procedure.

SECTION 5. Method of Collection. On or about July 1st of each year, but in any event in sufficient time to include the levy of the special tax on the County’s secured tax roll, the District shall determine the use category and related tax amount representing each parcel of real property within the District subject to the special tax. Parcels subject to levy shall be determined based upon the records of the Humboldt County Assessor or, in lieu thereof, upon such other reliable public records available to the District.

The special tax shall be collected in the same manner and subject to the same penalty as, or with, other taxes fixed and collected by Humboldt County on behalf of the Arcata Fire Protection District. The County of Humboldt may deduct reasonable expenses incurred for such service before remitting the balance to the District.

SECTION 6. Special Account. Upon receipt of the special taxes the District shall cause same to be deposited in a special tax account or such other account established by the District which allows the District to properly account for the special taxes in compliance with the provisions of Government Code Section 50075.1. Funds deposited into this account cannot be used for any other purpose than those outlined in Section 2 of this Ordinance.

SECTION 7. Authorization for Appropriations Limit Increase. To the extent that the revenue from the special taxes enacted by this Resolution are in excess of the appropriations limit for the District, as calculated in accordance with the provisions of Article Xlll B of the California Constitution and applicable statutory provisions, the approval of this special tax by the voters shall constitute approval to increase the District's spending limit in an amount equal to the revenue derived from the special tax, for the maximum period of time as allowed by law.

SECTION 8. Annual Report. In accordance with Government Code Section 50075.3, the District’s Fire Chief, as the chief fiscal officer of the District, shall file a report with the District Board at least once a year. The annual report shall contain the following: (a) the amount of funds collected and expended; and (b) the status of any project required or authorized to be funded with the proceeds of the special tax.

SECTION 9. Severability. If any part of this Ordinance is held to be invalid for any reason, such decision shall not affect the remaining portion of this Ordinance.

SECTION 10. Effective Date and Sunset Date. This Ordinance shall be effective only at such time as the District Board has declared that the Ordinance has been approved by two-thirds of the voters voting at an election to be held on March 3, 2020. Should this Ordinance not be approved, Ordinance No. 97-010 (approved by voters in 1997) will remain in full force and effect. Notwithstanding the above, if this Ordinance is approved, the special tax shall be collected at the rates established by this Ordinance beginning with the 2020-2021 fiscal year until June 30, 2030, at which time the special tax shall be repealed by operation of law.

SECTION 11. Certification. The District Secretary shall certify to the passage and adoption of this Ordinance and shall cause a copy of the full text of the Ordinance to be posted.

IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS

California Government Code section 53978 authorizes fire districts to adopt, by ordinance, a special tax for fire protection and prevention with the approval of two-thirds of the voters of the district. Pursuant to this authority, the Board of Directors (“Board”) of the Arcata Fire Protection District (“District”) proposes, through Measure R, to impose a special tax on real property located within the Arcata Fire Protection District for fire protection, rescue, and emergency medical services. If approved by two-thirds of the voters, the special tax would supersede the existing special tax of $5 per unit of benefit approved in 1997. The proposed special tax would be collected in addition to the existing benefit assessment collected for the District, which was approved in 2006.

The special tax would be a flat rate tax levied on each taxable parcel based on Parcel Use Category, as set forth in the full text of the Measure R Ordinance, effective from fiscal year 2020-21 through June 30, 2030. Each year the special tax is levied, Vacant/unimproved parcels would be taxed $30, Single-Family residential parcels $118, Rural residential/improved parcels $192, Multi-family residential (2-4 units) parcels $309, Multi-family residential (5-9 units) parcels $388, Multi-family residential (10+ units) parcels $465, Commercial parcels $546, Industrial parcels $910, Retail parcels (10,000 + square feet) $910, and Mobile Homes $90. The definitions of each parcel type are set forth in the ordinance. Property owners may appeal the District’s determination of the Parcel Use category by written appeal no later than December 1 of the year the tax is levied.

If two-thirds of the voters of the District voting on Measure R vote yes, the District will be authorized to levy the special tax for fire protection and prevention services.

A no vote on Measure R will disapprove levying the special tax for fire protection and prevention services.


ARGUMENT FOR AND REBUTTAL

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE R

Arcata, McKinleyville, Bayside, Manila and Jacoby Creek are the FIVE communities that make up the Arcata Fire Protection District.
MEASURE-R is desperately needed to continue to staff and operate all THREE fire stations; Downtown Arcata, McKinleyville, and the Mad River Station on Janes Road near the hospital. Since 1996 calls for services have increased by 172%, while sustainable funding has stayed the same for the past 14 years. A minimum of TWO trained firefighters are needed to safely staff each of the THREE stations that cover the 62 square mile Fire District, 24 hours a day -- 365 days of the year.

Your Fire District Board of Directors, the staff, and our Volunteer Fire Association, have worked hard to cut costs, secure grants, and implement new efficiencies wherever possible. The District’s finances are fully transparent and accountable.

MEASURE-R is must-have funding that requires a 2/3 vote in order to pass. Every vote counts! The need for effective and reliable fire department services has never been greater. Protect quick 9-1-1 responses. Please join us to Vote YES on MEASURE-R.

For additional information on the Internet visit: https//www.arcatafire.org/funding- measure-questions. On Social Media enter #531AFD

/s/ Rene Campbell /s/ Randy Mendosa

No on R: REBUTTAL TO THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE R

The main reasons Measure R is inadequate for addressing much need long-term Fire Service solutions are it fails to consider:

A. The consolidated Arcata Fire Station could potentially be used as an incident command and skill development training center for first responders, fire fighters and law enforcement.

B. There is an overwhelming need to provide on-site housing for qualified trainees committed to entering into this type of public service.

C. The advantages of developing a much-needed school would likely alleviate the need for fully funded positions and ultimately decrease the tax burden for those who can least afford it.

We have a real opportunity to produce graduates of specialized training who would be eligible for a wide variety of employment throughout the county and the nation.

This measure, if approved by 2/3rds of Arcata voters, would generate $2.2 million The current budget deficit is approximately $250,000.
The question remains, can the $250,000 be made up through the County’s existing Measure Z resources instead?

Can we instead create a much-needed training facility that would develop skilled personnel that would be an asset to both local and national needs?

The answer is yes if we vote NO on R.

The Humboldt County Taxpayers League supports effective Law Enforcement and Fire protection. The added tax of Measure R is just too much and unjustified.

/s/ Uri Driscoll, Humboldt County Taxpayers League President
/s/ Kent Sawatzky, Humboldt County Taxpayers League Executive Director

ARGUMENT AGAINST AND REBUTTAL

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE R

Vote No on Measure R

We are not supporting the Special Tax Measure R for the following reasons:

Arcata currently has one of the highest fire tax rates in the county at $88 per residence. Measure R would ADD $118 for a total Fire District tax of $206 per single family residence.

For comparison Fortuna has a tax rate on a single family residence of $72, Blue Lake $36 and Ferndale $20.

The question we must ask is why would Arcata Residents be asked to pay more than two-and-a-half times the rate of Humboldt Bay Fire District residents whose district also has paid employees. Single family residents in that district pay $72.

This added Measure R tax would impact both rental property and trailer park residents. Arcata mobile home park residents currently pay $81 and if measure R is approved it would cause residents to pay an additional $90. This would total $171 per mobile home for those who can least afford it.

Is there a better approach? Humboldt County Taxpayers League (HCTL) thinks so. For instance, an organized county-wide fire district and dispatch would likely be much more efficient.

Another option worth considering, as was supported by the community in the past, is to consolidate the two Arcata fire stations into one centralized station.

The community may have other suggestions for potential improvements to our fire districts. If so, please contact the HCTL or the Arcata Fire District.

The Humboldt County Taxpayers League supports effective law enforcement and Fire protection. The added tax of Measure R is just too much and unjustified.

/s/ Kent Sawatzky, Executive Director Humboldt County Taxpayers League

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE R

It’s not logical to compare operational costs for the 5 communities / 62 square miles our Fire District protects and serves, with the Humboldt Bay Fire Joint Power Authority that has major funding from the City of Eureka. The remainder of the communities in the County are covered by volunteer fire departments that are struggling to recruit and retain firefighters. Again, these comparisons are not proportionate.

As property owners, our costs for MEASURE – R will be based on property type and size. Example: A single family residence would add $118 per year to the existing $88 that was last assessed in 2006. A rural residence would increase $192 per year, and a Mobile Home in a park would increase $90 per year. Breaking this down more, staffing all three fire stations 24 hours per day / 365 days per year would cost a single family residence a total of .57 cents per day; a rural residence .89 cents per day; and a mobile home in a park would pay .43 cents per day.

During the past 2 years, the Fire District Board of Directors and staff have been working very hard to increase efficiencies and cut costs wherever possible. MEASURE –R is “bare bones” funding needed to continue providing the vital public safety services our communities must have.

Vote YES for MEASURE – R.

/s/ Rene Campbell, Board Member - President

(INFORMATION ABOVE IS FROM THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY OFFICE OF ELECTIONS)
Note: State propositions, and state and federal candidate information is available at the Secretary of State website: https://www.sos.ca.gov/ .