Measure T gains town support: Fire protection measure endorsed by Truckee Town Council
Voters in the Truckee Fire Protection District will decide this summer whether to adopt a measure that will tax property owners $179 per year — a move supporters say will remove fire fuels from the Truckee and Donner Summit communities.
The Truckee Fire Protection District Board in April unanimously voted to place Measure T, a funding source that would generate roughly $3.7 million annually, on the Aug. 31 special election ballot.
On Tuesday, Measure T received further support following an endorsement from Truckee Town Council, which unanimously adopted a resolution to back the wildfire protection measure.
“I’m in full support of this,” said Truckee Mayor Anna Klovstad. “It is clearly something we need to do in our community. Our community has been asking for it for years and I’m very proud of the fire district for coming forward and creating a path to success on a measure like this.”
If approved by voters, Measure T funds would be used to remove dry brush, dead trees, and other fire hazards. Funds would also be allocated toward providing homeowners with easy and inexpensive disposal options for green waste.
According to a survey from the Truckee Fire Protection District, 95% of voters identified fire as the most important issue facing the area.
Currently, the area has drier than usual fuels, said Truckee Fire Chief Bill Seline.
In order to reduce fire fuels the district often relies on grants, which have proven to be an unreliable source of funding.
“We’ll continue to source grants whenever possible. However, our experience has been that grants are unpredictable. If we rely solely on grants, it could take forever to get this kind of work done,” said Seline.
“To really make significant impact, we need to take ownership as a community if we want to see this work done,” he added.
The Truckee Fire Protection District encompasses around 21,000 taxable properties, and 125 square miles. Roughly half the money raised by the tax would be used toward assisting property owners in disposing larger material, while the rest would be allocated toward treating areas and other fire mitigation needs.
“When people go to work on their brush and tree limbs, it’s a lot of big material and it needs maybe curbside service to get that done,” added Seline. “So, that would be one of the plans to make it really easy for people to remove that material.”
Reducing the risk of wildfire would also likely increase the availability of fire insurance in the area, reduce the number of canceled policies, and potentially reduce insurance premiums. The actual benefit of reducing fire fuels in terms of insurance costs, according to Seline, is difficult to quantify.
“Unfortunately, there’s not a clear nexus between fire fuels reduction and this measure, and what would happen with fire insurance,” said Seline.
The measure requires 66.7% approval from voters and would be in effect for eight years. An independent citizens’ oversight committee will be established to ensure funds are used appropriately. Work done within the Truckee Fire Protection District will also be based on priority and not on the amount of taxes collected in a given area.
“I understand and recognize that $179 per year it is a lot for certain people,” said Truckee Vice Mayor Courtney Henderson. “That translates to 49 cents a day. Forty-nine cents a day to protect our structures, our people, and our community, and so I have to support that.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643
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