After watching the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting, I asked Vince Wells for a copy of his statement urging support of the $75 parcel tax for Contra Costa County to ensure fire stations remain open. I thought it was powerful and full of good information.
If you did not happen to see the video, here is a copy of what he provided to the Board of Directors.
I come forward on behalf of the fire fighters of the CCCFPD to ask for your unanimous support of this parcel tax.
The revenue this tax will bring in to the fire district is critical and will allow us to continue to serve and protect the lives and property of those within the district and surrounding communities.
I think it is important that those that will pay this tax, and who rely on you as their elected officials to provide them with adequate fire protection, see that this tax has your full support.
Since this recession began, you, the administration, and the employees have worked together to reduce costs. Through these measures we have been able to minimize service reductions over the past four years. Unfortunately the loss of revenue is insurmountable by internal measures alone. 90% of our funds come from property taxes. We have lost 32% over the last four years.
Our fire district is currently understaffed from the top down, so therefore we cannot make any more cuts with out significant reductions in service. We have gone from 30 engine companies to 28. This is has left us with 84 fire fighters to cover 300 square miles and over 600,000 people. Without the revenue replacement this tax will provide, we could be down to as low as 54 fire fighters on duty per day.
Together as a labor/management team, we have worked to reduce the cost of doing business. We have taken pay cuts as a bargaining unit, and have not negotiated any contracts with pay increases or benefit improvements since 2006.
The tax amount will not solve all of the district’s problems, which the fire chief and the board has made clear. It allows us the time to continue to provide adequate fire and emergency services while other cost saving measures are worked out and revenue returns.
We realize that times are hard and that tax measures are unpopular these days. However, public safety is the number one priority for government and most citizens expect a timely response when they call 911. Unfortunately due to the loss of revenue, we will not be able to continue this service level without successfully passing this parcel tax.
Again, on behalf of the fire fighters of CCCFPD and the citizens we protect, we ask that you support this parcel tax and place it on the ballot to allow the citizens to decide whether they want to maintain their fire services or not.Vince WellsPresident, Local 1230Contra Costa Professional Firefighters