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Survey: Granite Bay residents don’t want new tax

Assessment would fund fire district
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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The survey results are in and the answer is clear: Granite Bay residents don’t want any new property taxes. The South Placer Fire District sent out a community survey last year in an effort to learn whether or not it would be worthwhile to put a measure on the ballot to raise property taxes in Granite Bay. The purpose for the tax increase would be to help fund the district, which says it may have to close a fire station due to a lack of funding. South Placer Fire Chief Tony Corado said the district has consistently suffered declining revenues over the past several years due to waning property taxes. “We knew we were heading toward multiple years of declining revenue,” Corado said. “So we started to look at some things, and we’ve made adjustments up to this point.” Those adjustments have included reductions in staffing, pay cuts and the closing of one fire engine company, Corado said. Corado said that the district will likely have to close an entire station or move engine companies around to make up for the lack of funds. “If you close a station down, you immediately save money in operating costs,” he said. “We’re doing some analysis right now on what kinds of dollars would be captured by each one of the individual five stations closing.” Meanwhile, some Granite Bay residents think that the fire district should be able to do a good job with what they have. “The people who run it tend to want the best equipment, the newest equipment,” said Granite Bay resident Harrison Clark. “I don’t think the latest equipment is needed to do a good job.” Resident Nancy Williams echoes the survey results in stating that raising taxes is not the solution to the problem. “I think that there needs to be better accounting for where the money is being spent,” she said. “Especially when you look at the economy, many people have been laid off from their jobs.” Williams was laid off from her job three years ago and said it is a struggle for many homeowners these days just to keep their homes. “I think that people need to get a grip on the pocketbooks of government spending,” Williams said. “With the economy the way it is and you raise taxes, there are going to be more people out of homes.” The South Placer Fire District paid $24,000 to SCI Consulting Group, which sent out 8,800 surveys to residents in October. The survey came back with a 22.6 percent return rate, which Corado said was a likely representation of voter turnout at the June 5 election. The survey asked three different questions — whether or not voters would approve a $60, $85 or $110 annual property tax increase to help fund the district. The lowest cost option would prevent further cutbacks, but would not reinstate recently cut firefighters or bring back the fire engine that was removed from service. The $85 option would reinstate firefighters and restart the recently cut fire engine. The highest cost option would prevent cuts, reinstate firefighters and the engine and allow each engine to be constantly staffed by three firefighters. Results were presented to the South Placer Fire District Board on Jan. 18 and indicated that 67 percent of the registered voters in the district would “definitely vote no” on the proposed tax assessment. “The moral of the story is in the end, we are far below the percentage that we would need to move forward,” Corado said. “I would not think that the board would move forward with it.” The South Placer Fire District Board will make a decision Feb. 29 on whether or not it will put the matter to voters in the upcoming election, Corado said. “Hopefully the salaries and benefits can be reduced to a point where we are not digging into the service too much further,” Corado said. “I think closing a station is going to be inevitable, but hopefully it is only one.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT. ---------- South Placer Fire District board meeting When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29 Where: 6900 Eureka Road, Granite Bay