February 14, 2008
As professional firefighters, we know firsthand the fire dangers we face here in the Truckee area. As you know, we were starkly reminded of those dangers on several occasions over the past year when we experienced the “I-80,” Angora and Washoe fires.
For this reason, The Truckee Fire Employees Association, (representing 37 local firefighters), is supporting the benefit assessment proposed by the Truckee Fire Protection District.
We need this assessment to increase staffing levels and ensure we have the additional firefighters we need to respond to an increasing number of incidents and calls. The assessment would provide the funding necessary to improve our emergency communications system, which can save crucial time during an emergency. We must also expand important prevention measures including neighborhood evacuation planning, home inspection and defensible space chipping programs.
It is important to note that while assessment funds will be used to increase staffing levels, no funds will be used to increase salaries or benefits for current fire district personnel. In addition, the District’s Finance Committee will conduct annual audits of all assessment funds to ensure they are being spent prudently and properly. By law, assessment funds can only be used for fire suppression and protection here in our local communities; not one penny can be taken by the state.
Recent fires have given us a clear indication of our strengths and limitations as a fire district. We urge property owners to vote yes and return your benefit assessment ballot before March 18. Your vote will give us the tools we need to provide the most efficient and effective rapid response possible to fire emergencies. The future safety of our community is dependent on your support.
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President, Truckee Fire
Everyone wants a piece of our taxes. What happened to anonymous voting? The [Truckee Fire Protection District assessment] ballot I got requires name signature and address. If I vote no am I put on a list of do not respond? I think this is sorta blackmail. I am leaning toward a yes, but I think my vote should be not accountable to my address.
When will it end? Property assessment is piled on top of property assessment. The most recent one for the fire district is pure intimidation. Secret ballot? I think not. On your ballot they have your name(s), address, parcel number and how you voted. This is an unbelievable intrusion of our privacy.
There have been a rash of property assessments recently, all of which have passed. Each has its own merit but how much is the property owner expected to support? We’re already being told that even the affordable housing isn’t too affordable. Will those that finally are in those homes be able to continually have their property taxes increase at an alarming rate?
The fire district’s proposed assessment does not have a sunset clause. It can go up 3 percent each and every year forever. I’m a retired teacher whose pension goes up a maximum of 2 percent a year and it is not compounded. Am I the next to be priced out of Truckee?
You can only bleed the property owners so much. Truckee obviously wants to become the western edition of Vail or Park City. But all on the backs of the property owners? If I have to live within my means, why can’t all the special districts learn to do the same.
There are thousands of new homes on the books for Truckee. Many will be second homes that will pay for but not use the services. With the new revenues brought in by those developments, and with many of those new homes not requiring schools, parks, community centers, etc., why can’t these districts survive without their hands continually in our pockets?
Enough is enough. There must be some other way than continually sticking it to the property owners. Not everyone is wealthy in this community. But apparently that fact has eluded all the special districts. How sad.