Home Brentwood Brentwood City Manager Issues Statement on Fire Service

Brentwood City Manager Issues Statement on Fire Service

Tim Ogden, Brentwood City Manager

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Due to disinformation and misunderstanding abounding, please take a moment to check out the facts as relayed by City Manager Tim Ogden that follow:

– The city does not have a fire department, nor responsibilities for providing fire service.

– Fire services are provided by the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (“Fire District”).

– The Fire District covers 128,000 residents in Brentwood, Oakley, and unincorporated Contra Costa County with over 250 acres.

– The Fire District is underfunded and underserved with only 3 stations, and 9 fire fighters on duty at a time, resulting in troubling response times.

– Some residents feel the City of Brentwood should carry the burden of funding an independent fire district.

– Some suggest no new taxes and that the city should use its reserves to fund the Fire District or use city CFD’s now used for police services.

So, what are CFD’s and why won’t this work?!?

The City has formed four Community Facility Districts (“CFD’s”) to levy a special tax for community facilities and services (starting in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2007). The money’s collected are able to fund the following authorized (but not mandatory) expenses. The summary below aggregates all the eligible expenditures, even though each of the four CFD’s differ slightly:

– Facilities: Acquisition and construction of open space lands and easements, trails, bridges, drainage structures, fire breaks, police facilities, flood and storm drain facilities, joint use school facilities and programming, roadway repair (including pavement, curb, gutter, sidewalks), library facilities, government and community facilities, and undergrounding of utility transmission and distribution facilities.

– Services: Fire fighting, emergency medical, police and public safety, open space and natural wildlands maintenance (including on State Park lands), flood and storm drainage operation, and joint use school site and park facilities (but not school use or maintenance).

Nothing in the formation intent language of the CFD’s requires, mandates, or prioritizes any expense, or suggests the funding of facilities or services OUTSIDE of the city, including fire districts, school districts, water districts, counties, etc.

While the CFD’s allow for a variety of eligible facility and service expenditures, aside from some debt payments on facilities, approximately 90% has consistently been used to fund the priority expansion of the police department. In the most recent CFD report available in the year ending June 30, 2019, approximately $6.1M was received in revenue, with approximately $5.3M spent on police services.

It is being suggested by some that the City split the CFD’s funds 50/50 for the city’s police department and the independent Fire District. Fire services are not a service provided by the city, so Brentwood taxpayers would be funding services outside of Brentwood in the district. To do so would require reallocating approximately $3M away from police services (and other debt) to accommodate $3M for police and $3M for fire.

An option is to reduce the police services contribution (lay off several officers) or to maintain the same level of police services, find $3M in other city services affecting programs and personnel. The City recently made service level reductions in order to manage COVID-19 economic losses, including cancelling the expansion of an additional police beat with 5 additional officers, several economic development initiatives, and reduced pavement maintenance and hours of operation for the library.

It is also suggested the city’s use its General Fund reserves as an option. Currently with a balance of $17M, if no current city services are reduced, the one-time funds of the reserves could be drained in less than 6 years. That timeframe could occur sooner if there is another recession, and does not take into consideration annual cost increases of every city service.

Once the reserves are drained, only two options remain: city services would have to be drastically reduced or the residents would need to approve a tax measure to maintain current City services and amenities. The stark reality for residents of Brentwood would be they would still be paying a CFD tax, now funding the independent Fire District to the benefit of Oakley, Discovery Bay and the rest of the unincorporated county, while at the same time having to accept reduced service levels or additional taxes in Brentwood. Residents outside of Brentwood will continue to enjoy their city services and improved fire service thanks to Brentwood residents, all the while not paying for them.

While in the recent past the city has used CFD funds to assist the Fire District, it was in the context of a limited duration and joint agreement between the City of Brentwood, City of Oakley, and Contra Costa County, to fund keeping a fourth fire station open for two years. The amounts contributed by Brentwood were $190,485 in 2015/16 and $475,515 in 2016/17, and when the Fire District closed the station, the funding commitment ceased.

Should the City of Brentwood assist in the funding of the Fire District with CFD’s or General Fund reserves, the funds will be spent in the boundary of the Fire District. The irony remains that with decreased funding for city services to fund the Fire District to avoid an additional tax, the city may need to seek a tax measure to compensate or accept reduced services. The sentiment of some that the multi-year deficits of the Fire District, a burden of the County, Oakley, Discovery Bay, and Brentwood, can be borne on the backs of Brentwood residents alone without reduced services or additional taxes is a fallacy.

To review the CFD reports in full: https://www.brentwoodca.gov/gov/finance/docs/cfd.asp

For more information about your Fire District: https://www.firesafeeastcounty.org/

4 COMMENTS

  1. July 1, 2019
    Office of Assessor
    2530 Arnold Drive, Suite 400 Martinez, California 94553-4359 FAX: (925) 313-7660 Telephone: (925) 313-7500
    Gus S. Kramer Assessor
    Sara Holman
    Assistant Assessor Administration
    Param Bhatia
    Assistant Assessor Valuation
    HONORABLE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS Contra Costa County
    Administration Building
    Martinez, CA 94553
    Dear Board Members:
    I wish to advise you that the 2019-2020 County Assessment Roll has been delivered to the County Auditor, as required by law.
    The increase to the local tax base for 2019-20 is over $10.8 billion. This represents a 5.30% increase in assessed value and brings the total net local assessment roll to over $215.2 billion. The 2019-2020 assessment roll is the highest to date in Contra Costa County’s history.
    Cities with the largest increases in assessed value from the prior year include Oakley with an 8.22% increase, Pleasant Hill with a 7.20% increase, and Brentwood with a 6.73% increase. Richmond and Pittsburg saw the lowest assessed value increases― Richmond at 3.00% and Pittsburg at 4.27%. The assessment roll now consists of 374,055 parcels, an increase of 1587 over the previous year.
    I would like to acknowledge and commend the employees of the Assessor’s Office for their continued dedication and hard work which resulted in the completion and delivery of this assessment roll on a timely basis.
    Sincerely,
    GUS S. KRAMER Assessor
    GSK/rc
    Enclosures (2)
    cc: David Twa, County Administrator

  2. TYPICAL B.S. AUDIT THE C.A.F.R. REPORT AND YOU WILL FIND MILLIONS IN SLUSH FUNDS AND OFF “BUDGET” MONEY. THESE CROCODILE TEARS ARE STUPID. THE “LET THEM EAT CAKE” SHTICK DONT HUNT NO MO!

    FUND THE POLICE
    FUND THE FIRE DEPT.
    DEFUND THE TOP CITY HALL ADMINISTRATORS
    DEFUND POLITICIALNS

  3. Well stated except the 250 acres. That could be a typo. So, with that said. Please contact your county Supervisors as they were the decision makers that have put us in this spot. There is talk of a sales tax measure county wide. A portion or all could be sent prorated to the fire districts. The public needs to voice support for a county sales tax for fire. Contact your County Supervisors and urge them to make their mistakes on fire decisions right. We have waited long enough.

  4. I have an idea, how about Brentwood drop out of the ECCFD and start paying for their own city fire department? Let the rest of us people “not willing to pay our fair share” have the 3 ECCFD stations currently servicing the city of Brentwood. A city that has seen ridiculous growth without any consideration to what that growth will require in additional services. A city who uses the services the most. A city that has obviously mis managed their money. A city who’s governmental officials would rather not pay for its own excess developments. Obviously, the mayor and council have been getting kickbacks from the developers. Why would a city approve massive over development without accounting for its own fire services? Stop using the taxes paid by the residents of Byron, Knightsen, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, and Oakley to find your emergency services while forcing us to have response times that are slow enough to cause people to lose their lives! What a pompous ass you are Mr. City MisManager.

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