Sat. May 25th, 2024

By Samuel Strait – May 7, 2021

Over the course of the past week since news of the Crescent Fire
Protection District’s ballot and pamphlet’s impending appearance in
mailboxes through out it’s district boundaries, the Crescent City Times has been
dipping its proverbial toe in the waters to test the response from those
that will feel the bite of yet another dip by government services into
their collective pockets.  For most it seems to have become a never
ending process for whenever agencies exceed their continually
increasing budget requests, taxing is the first response.  Many are
infuriated by what they felt as a guarantee made last summer that both
the City and the County would be looking after the needs of fire
districts without the need for yet more tax levies.  Sorry, voters, for
the Crescent Fire Protection District that vessel failed to sail.  As a
result, while righteous anger should be directed at the County Board of
Supervisors and the City Council, much of it remains focused on the new
tax leviers in the County, the CFPD.   When the sales tax measures were
proposed, voters were warned that neither the County nor the City could
be compelled to direct funds from the sales tax increase to specific
sources.  The money collected would find itself in the general funds
controlled by the perpetrators of last fall’s giant fraud.

What never fails to arise while asking the questions is a distinct
feeling of being picked on by taxing authorities from the current crop
of victims.  There is a particular feeling of clear unfairness from
parcel owners over the system of weighted voters, then to completely
tarnish the process by the CFPD by allowing potential large contributors
to the assessment benefit avoid a bulk of their responsibility by
capping the benefit at $1,000. How is it fair when owners of say
Apartment Complexes with hundreds of single family occupied units end up
paying a mere $1,000, when individual single family residences in
similar numbers end up paying cumulatively thousands of times more, they
ask.  The only answer the District has given is, that’s the way it was
set up.  Yet it has been noted that it clearly favors potentially large
contributors by offering an out to a major out of pocket expense where
disadvantaged people who own and are poor were offered no such
consideration.  It appears to many respondents that the CFPD
intentionally placed the cap in the provision to encourage those voters
to vote “Yes”, where they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Another major complaint voiced by even some of those that were in favor
of the levy was the notice of an overwhelming response to trivial non
life threatening events.  Many had at one time or other noticed what
seemed like most of the law enforcement and emergency vehicles available
in the County responded to an emergency situation where the “victim”
ended up walking away from the scene unaided and without transport to
the hospital.  Not a pretty scene for emergency services to wear.  On
the other side there was a certain acknowledgement of witnessing scenes
where large scale response was important and appropriate in preventing a
serious negative outcome.

The general sense from interviewing respondents was that throwing more
money at the CFPD before they had seriously trimmed budgets, looked at
salaries approaching four times that of Del Norte County’s average
earnings ( US 2020 Census reports a bit over $45,000 is the average.  It
does qualify that average by stating Del Norte County has a larger than
average poor population), and seriously looked into other more fair
sources of additional revenue without taxing being the first choice. 
There clearly is a sense that governing institutions of which the CFPD
is one such, fail to understand that not everyone earns $100,000 plus
each year in the County and $74 additional out of pocket expense is a
big deal.  Further it seems as though agencies are either populated by
such compensation packages and wanting more tax revenue to further
distort the average wage in the County by annual increases of 3% to 5%
nearly every budget cycle or asking for voters to approve more taxes to
employ additional six figure employees.  One disgruntled interviewee
pointed to the fact that the CFPD would have seven paid employees if the
three Captains were indeed hired to administer twenty volunteer
firefighters, probably not even counting unpaid volunteer “Battalion
Chiefs” that already occupy positions of authority at each of the CFPD’s

The repeat effort by the District from last fall’s failure to the tune
of $164,000 to secure the requested benefit plus the most recent price
tag for the do over of what could easily amount to another $100,000 is
particularly troublesome for many potential voters that spend the time
to see what exactly they are getting for their money.   It is like the
comic book scene where two party’s flip a coin.  The loser then, not
liking the results immediately says best two out of three.

At this point the die has been cast and an election for some parcel
owners is upon them.  They are the ultimate arbiters of their pocket
books and will decide the fate, in spite of the lack of a level playing
field, whether to accept a $74 increase to their property taxes even if
they NEVER have the need for CFPD services.


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