Truckee fire proposing tax for new developments | SierraSun.com

Truckee fire proposing tax for new developments

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun file photoChief Bryce Keller

Hot on the heels of their recent assessment, the Truckee Fire District is now looking to create a new taxing district targeting new development.

Passed in March, the Truckee Fire Protection District assessment added from $49 per year to single homes to $145 to commercial and industrial parcels, aimed at keeping the district’s service levels at a high standard.

But looking further into the future as the town’s population continues to grow, Truckee Fire Chief Bryce Keller said the district will need more revenue to keep up.

Forming a community facilities district under the Mello-Roos Act would allow the fire agency to tax only new growth to compensate for their impacts on fire and emergency services, Keller said.

“The bottom like is the things I heard loud and clear is ‘what are you going to do to assure services aren’t further diluted by new growth?'” Keller said.

The fire district is initially targeting four potential developments ” the Railyard, Hotel Avery, the former Forest Service lot above downtown, and planned condominiums at Sugar Bowl, proposing a maximum tax of $164 per residential unit, Keller said.

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Jim Porter, attorney with Porter Simon and representative for the four property owners picked for the district, isn’t happy with the fire district’s approach, however.

“The district was very aggressive about telling the property owners they had to sign a petition, that they had to form a Mello-Roos district, even when the tax impacts were not known,” Porter said. “That was extremely misleading.”

The district currently receives a percentage of property taxes, one-time mitigation fees for new development and the recently-added benefit assessment.

“I told them ‘I’m your biggest fan and I’m not an anti-tax guy,” Porter said. “To me it’s always better to talk with the people you are cramming a new tax down their throat rather than telling them they have no choice.”

Keller said if property owners choose not to be in the Mello-Roos district, they would likely have to pay a larger up-front fee, rather than a tax spread out over time.

“The benefit assessment allowed us to stay at our level of service for a couple years, but as growth continues we could fall below our thresholds and people and property would suffer because of that,” Keller said.

While Porter said a workshop with the affected property owners would be appropriate before the proposal goes to the district’s board for decision, right now only a public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23.

The Truckee Fire Protection District is also considering expanding, including areas inside and out of the northeast corner of Truckee in both coverage and taxation.

“Historically we’ve provided services to those areas but they haven’t contributed to funding the district,” said Fire Chief Bryce Keller.

The fire district would get a piece of the property taxes in the annexed area, but that wouldn’t affect the total property tax, Keller said.

Property owners would have to start paying the recently passed assessment however, Keller said, and any new building would be subject to mitigation fees for the district.

The annexed area would include about 5,265 acres and 127 parcels.

A workshop for affected property owners will be On Sept. 15 at the Truckee Sanitary District at 5:30 p.m., a formal hearing will be held on Oct. 16 at town hall at 10 a.m., and a protest hearing will be held Nov. 17 at town hall at 10 a.m.