Measure B passed to fund Foresthill’s fire district services. Hard decision to open our pockets and commit $240 a year knowing no one else is going to save us. The Fire Board can now develop a realistic plan to better protect and serve us. All the $240 stays in Foresthill. That is a good thing.
Let’s move on from B to another HOT TOPIC that needs fixing. If you pay parcel taxes in Foresthill (for that matter anywhere in Placer County), you are subsidizing seven failed fire districts. How can that be? For years, former District 5 Supervisor Montgomery and then Director of OES kept stating: “No one else pays for anyone else’s fire service.” The Placer County’s adopted budget with auditor notes reflect otherwise. This is unjust and the subsidy needs to addressing before the 2019-2020 budget is adopted.
Many of us were stunned at the April 2018 Foresthill Forum to learn that our property tax dollars were funding failed fire zones. The County in 2017 tagged at least $1.5 million of General Fund dollars to subsidize a CalFire contract for the benefit of seven failed “fire zones”. Ophir pays $48/year in fire tax yet receives well over a $1 million in benefits. Foresthill, however, has received no funding as the County claims to have no financial responsibility for reimbursing calls in or out of our Fire District. You can imagine the shock rippling through the audience as reality set in. Trust was breached. Pandora’s box opened to reveal a disparity in how fire districts and zones were funded. Ouch.
Placer County subsequently issued a press release in May 2018 confirming funding for those failed zones would reach $9.5 million by 2022. To appease constituents, they formed an Ad Hoc Committee of two supervisors tasked to present potential solutions. Twelve months passed. Still no proposals to rectify the injustice being done to the communities of Roseville, Granite Bay, Loomis, Foresthill, Placer Hills, Tahoe et al. which pay and manage their own fire/EMS services. Was the committee a sham to quiet Foresthill since only a few meetings were held? Using our tax base is no longer tenable and is egregious. We fund our fire district and failed zones need to pay for their fire service.
Placer County at their May 2019 meeting was asked to share timely steps to address and correct this unfair funding practice with a suggestion that those zones vote a self-tax, as done by Foresthill and Placer Hills, or the CalFire contract be trimmed to the amount funded by fire tax dollars collected from those communities. There is no more "wait to see". Foresthill and Placer Hills did the right thing to solve their EMS issues and now Colfax and the other communities that make up the 7 need to do the same or lose the extra service. Placer County is in a quandary since those zones of benefit (primarily in District 3 / Supervisor Holmes area) expect Placer to maintain status quo with well over a $2 million subsidy planned for this coming budget year. Where is our piece of the pie? Is this legal or just? Are you okay with this? If not, get involved and attend the Foresthill Forum meetings. I have coordinated for a Supervisor and County staff to present at the Monday, August 5, Forum to explain when and how this will get fixed. Please attend this very key meeting to voice your concerns. The community of Placer Hills and Newcastle are being notified of this meeting as they too are impacted.
The free ride is over. Misusing General Fund tax dollars needs to cease for failed fire districts as it diverts monies from other intended projects. Placer County has deemed they are not legally responsible for providing this service so it should stop. This is a county-wide issue which needs solving before next budget approval. Come to meetings. Tell your friends and family in Placer County. Only WE the people can demand a change. Everyone attend the August Forum at the Memorial Hall to learn more.