By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – May 7, 2021

Nearly everyone affected by the decision of the Crescent Fire Protection
District to pursue another effort at passage of a increased fire
assessment on property taxes has now received both their ballot and the
information pamphlet that arrived with it. Confused, baffled, or
bewildered, do not despair.  In a three part series the CCTimes will
make an effort to clear away the cobwebs and try to make sense of it
all.  To start with, using information from both the Crescent Fire
Protection District’s own Chief, Bill Gillespie, the District’s Ten Year
Master Plan, and multiple other sources the CCTimes will walk through
examples of how the new assessment will affect various parcels in
different situations in the district’s area of responsibility.  It will
be followed by an examination of how the funding if received might be
spent(new services, equipment maintenance, new employees, etc.) in an
over view of the District’s current Ten Year Master Plan.  This plan can
be viewed by the public by going to the District’s Web site and pressing
the “button” titled “Master Plan”.  All sixty four pages should be
revealed to your reading pleasure.  The series will conclude with an
overview of potential positives for the district’s parcel holders and
some of the many reasons for concern by actual parcel owners over the
decision by the CFPD.

In the district’s voter pamphlet it is explained that a portion of the
District’s funding currently comes from two previously passed parcel
assessments of $24 and $18.  The $18 assessment is due to sunset and
will no longer appear on the property tax bills of the parcel owners in
the CFPD’s zone of responsibility.  In other words the assessment on
your property tax bill will decline from $42 to $24.  The current effort
by CFPD is to replace the expiring $18 with an increased and more
permanent amount of $74 for single family residences.  Other properties
which for example may consist of  284 single family occupied apartments
in an apartment complex would pay the $74 per unit up to a cap of
$1000.  A great boon offered to that particular owner as 284 single and
individually owned residences would contribute over $21,000 to the
district.  Other properties such as a large commercial businesses or a
warehouse would similarly cap out at $1,000.  It likely would not
benefit an owner whose property portfolio consisted of 37 individual
single family rentals on individual parcels.   His or her assessment
would be 37 X $74 or $2738.  I guess it pays to be the “Big Dog” in this
situation.

There are two other issues that should be mentioned in that if the
benefit assessment were to pass, there is no sunset.  It will continue
to find it’s way on your property tax bill until a vote is taken to
remove the assessment.  Another thing to be aware of is that there is no
provision for parcel owners living under much reduced financial
conditions.  Something to keep in mind in this time of the Pandemic
where many exceptions were allowed in such circumstances.  The benefit
assessment must be paid by all parcel owners

Initially, providing the new assessment passes, the CFPD has identified
a number of pressing needs.  They include the hiring of three Captain
IIs(a governmental job identifier) sometime during the ten year future
period  which could set the District back any where from $132,000 and
change for salary and benefits to a maximum of $154,000 (per Master
Plan) and change depending on the quality of the candidate and
surrounding circumstances.  The new hires are proposed in an ambitious
plan of converting the District’s Washington Street Station into a 24
hour, six day rotation of continuous on duty response teams enabling the
District to service its calls in a immeasurably faster time frame
thereby with the potential of saving a future life.

The District is also wishing to stabilize its over all maintenance plan
for both vehicles and equipment, as well as to be able to plan for
future rehabilitation dollars that would need to be spent on the
District’s buildings.  As for the past few years the department’s dollar
needs have out stripped it’s income, there is a need to restore a
comfortable reserve and plan for big ticket items such as new fire
trucks or the replacement of the roof on the Washington Street Station. 
As with anything when it comes to year to year budgets, it is very
seldom the case where costs decline.  Plans for volunteer outreach,
continuous new training requirements, and new government regulations
will likely also affect the future budget’s bottom line.  The District
also warns that without continuous maintenance of current services the
District’s over all rating could decline, which may affect certain
insurance plans.

Of course this is but a brief overview of the District’s position on the
benefit assessment, and the CCTimes would encourage all parcel holders
in the District to carefully read the voting pamphlet supplied with your
ballot.  For those that wish to learn more, the Ten Year Plan is not
some mysterious verbiage that no one can understand and is easily
accessed on the District’s web site.  As a final resort, Chief Bill
Gillespie, the District’s answer man will be happy to respond to
questions parcel owners may wish to ask, and … if he doesn’t know the
answer he will find out for you in a timely manner.

On to Part Two’ a brief description of the District’s Ten Year plan for
those that do not wish to read all sixty four pages and other important
information to be found in the final part of this series, Part Three…..

One thought on “Oh No, Not another Story About the Fire Assessment: Part One”
  1. Excellent Sam you are so ARTICULATE on this Subject…..agree with Everything you wrote! Thank you for your Articles!

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