Help us determine how the Oakley City Council should proceed with placing a measure on the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would impose a Utility Users Tax to support the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
You are likely aware that the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District is an independent government agency that provides fire and medical response services to a 249 square mile area that includes the cities of Brentwood and Oakley and the unincorporated areas of far East County. Funding for the District is not adequate, as the District has funding for only three stations (a recent master plan study indicated a minimum of nine stations are needed just for a basic level of service). Needless to say, the District is severely underfunded and unable to meet life-saving response times, and the dedicated firefighters serving our area are stretched beyond any reasonable capacity. Sadly, residents of the District are at significant risk.
The Fire District has put forth to the voters a parcel tax and benefit assessment in recent years, but both were not successful. While the District is a separate government agency, the cities of Brentwood and Oakley are considering a proposal for voters to consider a utility users tax to help support the District. This general purpose tax could be critical to restoring firefighters, preventing cuts to fire personnel, maintaining 911 emergency response, and other general services. The tax is a percentage on top of the utility bill charges (much like a sales tax). This amount would be included in your billings for selected utilities that might include electricity, gas, cable, water, and sewer.
In order to fully execute the master plan (calling for nine stations) the County, and the cities of Brentwood and Oakley would need to pass at least a 9% utility users tax. The 9% in Oakley would provide for the operational costs of two additional fire stations. While 9% may be too much for the voters to support at this time (according to previous polling conducted), the need is such that inaction is no longer an option. The survey ahead seeks your input on a November ballot measure, which could provide needed funding for a least one additional station in Oakley.
This would call for a 4.5% utility users tax. Also on the ballot would a be an advisory question asking if a utility users tax is passed, would you like it dedicated for fire and medical response services.
The City Council desires your input to measure support for this proposal, and to determine if the funding for the two stations would be supported.
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That's 2.3 hours of public comment @ 3 minutes per response.