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Contra Costa County, CA November 6, 2012 Election
Measure Q
Parcel Tax
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

2/3 Approval Required

Fail: 114473 / 53.01% Yes votes ...... 101454 / 46.99% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 3 1:05pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (453/453)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

To provide local fire protection and emergency medical services and to ensure prompt response times for 9-1-1 emergency calls, shall an ordinance establishing an annual parcel tax of $75 per single family home, with tiered rates for commercial and industrial property, for seven years with all money going to protect local fire and emergency medical services, be adopted?

Impartial Analysis from the County Counsel
The Board of Directors of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District has adopted a resolution proposing a parcel tax (a qualified special tax). This ballot measure asks voters to decide whether a parcel tax should be imposed on parcels of taxable real property within the District beginning July 1, 2013. The parcel tax would continue in effect for seven years, until June 30, 2020, when it would expire.

If this measure passes, the parcel tax would be charged as follows: $75 per dwelling unit for single-family residential and condominium uses; $37.50 per dwelling unit for multi-family residential uses; $75 per one-quarter acre, or portion thereof, for commercial, industrial, and institutional uses; $37.50 per parcel for agricultural uses and for vacant parcels; and $75 per parcel for miscellaneous uses. The amount of the parcel tax levied on any parcel would be based on the County Assessor's Use Code for that parcel, or the actual use of the parcel if the use code is incorrect. Parcels that are assigned more than one use code will be charged based on the proportion of land area and dwelling units within each use code. A single parcel having more than one Assessor's Parcel Number will not be charged more than one special tax.

A parcel of taxable real property is a unit of real property located in the District that receives a separate property tax bill from the Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector. The parcel tax would not be levied on parcels that are exempt from paying property taxes.

The ballot measure states that the proceeds from the parcel tax will be used for the purposes of "providing and enhancing necessary fire protection and prevention services and emergency services, including acquiring, operating and maintaining fire suppression equipment, payment of personnel costs, and funding capital improvements." Proceeds from the parcel tax may be used only for the specific purposes set forth in the ballot measure and according to constitutional and statutory provisions.

State law requires the District's chief fiscal officer to file an annual report with the District's Governing Board that states the amount of parcel tax proceed received and expended in each year and the status of any projects required or authorized to be funded from the parcel tax proceeds. State law also requires the proceeds from the parcel tax to be deposited into a designated account.

Two-thirds of those voting on the ballot measure must approve the measure for it to pass.

A "yes" vote is a vote in favor of authorizing the parcel tax.

A "no" vote is a vote against authorizing the parcel tax.

  Measure Debate

Debate taped in September
News and Analysis

Measure Q a battle between Contra Costa fire services, pension reforms

Contra Costa Fire District Banks on Measure Q
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Arguments For Measure Q Arguments Against Measure Q
In an emergency, seconds count. When you call 911 you expect an immediate response. Our fire stations are strategically located throughout the community to reach you quickly. Your local firefighters and firefighter paramedics are the first responders to all emergencies whether they are medical or fire rescue, and are trained to save lives and protect property.

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is primarily funded by local property taxes. The District does not receive sales tax or other revenue from the jurisdictions we protect. As a result of reduced property values and the lowering of your property taxes, our District lost tens of millions of dollars in funding.

To continue basic service levels, the District has gone through significant reform. Positions have been cut, staff has been laid off, and operations have been streamlined to reduce costs. Our firefighters voluntarily cut their salaries by 10% and new firefighters will have significantly lower salaries and pensions.

The District responds to over 43,000 calls a year. Currently, only 85 firefighters are on-duty each day and respond from 28 stations protecting 600,000 residents covering 300 square miles.

Without Measure Q, neighborhood fire stations will close. 30% fewer firefighters will be available to respond to emergency calls. Response times will increase significantly. Your insurance costs may increase to compensate for the loss of fire protection and increased risk to your home.

Measure Q will maintain fire services at the current level. For $75 a year, you can ensure that 911 calls will be responded to efficiently and firefighters and firefighter paramedics will be available in any emergency. Measure Q is temporary and will end in 7 years. Measure Q funds will not be spent on pay raises for firefighters. All funds stay in our community and can only be spent on fire and emergency medical services.

Please vote Yes on Q.

Karen Mitchoff, County Supervisor

Russell Rodriguez, Emergency Department Physician

William E. "Bill" Granados, Contra Costa County Advisory Fire Commissioner

Chris Leimpeter, Fire Captain; Pleasant Hill Resident

Leslie K. Mueller, General Manager, American Medical Response

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The Contra Costa Times says this parcel tax offers a "false choice" and is "political blackmail" that ignores "the potential savings that could have, and still could be, attained if fire district officials make meaningful pension changes and seriously examine ways to restructure . . . ." We agree.

Even worse, the $75-a-year parcel tax will not solve the District's financial problems. Both the Fire Chief and the Board of Supervisors (which serve as the District's board) have admitted that. This tax would only temporarily delay the changes needed to generous pension benefits and redundant delivery of services.

For years, both the Fire Chief's annual budget message and the County Budget Report have warned of fiscal distress. Rather than demonstrating genuine leadership and taking appropriate action, county supervisors continued business as usual. Over a year ago, the Board quietly promised firefighters they would work to put a parcel tax on this year's ballot.

The District created this crisis by using up savings to balance budgets and failing to make necessary, timely changes. District officials still have no plan to solve long term problems, preferring instead to pursue a temporary fix and further postpone tough reform decisions.

Residents refuse to be blackmailed to pay more for essential safety services. By voting NO on Measure Q voters demand the District FIX PENSIONS FIRST before asking taxpayers to pay more.

Vote NO on Measure Q!

For more information see

Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, Kris Hunt, Executive Director

Safety services are essential function of government, but like households, they have to live within their income. The Contra Costa Fire Protection District (The District) says it needs a parcel tax to provide the time to solve its financial problems; the facts say otherwise.

The District has been living beyond its means for years. As spending exceeded revenue, the Board of Supervisors (which serves as the governing board of The District) used reserves to fill the budget gap. Now that its reserves are gone, The District is asking taxpayers to pay more to support its unsustainable spending.

Without this parcel tax The District projects a budget deficit next year. With this parcel tax -- even using The District's optimistic cost projections -- a budget deficit is expected again in just three years. There is every indication The District will continue to live beyond its means. Consider:

  • The District's expenses for pensions, lifetime health benefits, and Pension Obligation Bond payments are increasing.
  • The County Administrator stated that for every $1 of salary, employee benefits cost The District another $1.03 which is excessive even when compared to other public employees.
  • The Board of Supervisors is just now starting negotiations for lower pension benefits for future new hires. Even if the union agrees, the reduced benefits will not have a meaningful financial impact for a decade.
  • The District has inadequately funded vehicle replacement and building improvements for years.

With Measure Q The District offers voters an ultimatum: Pay more taxes or accept reduced services. By opposing this measure, taxpayers present an alternative: Don't ask for more money until you have a plan in place that actually solves The District's long-term cost problems.

Vote NO on Measure Q!

For more information see

Contra Costa Taxpayers Association Kris Hunt, Executive Director

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Over the past 4 years, the Contra Costa Fire Protection District lost over $32 million in revenue due to the recession. Without additional revenue, local fire stations will close and services will be drastically reduced. Look no further than the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District. They failed to pass Measure S, their fire protection parcel tax, and as a result, fire protection and EMS were decimated, response times increased, and fire insurance costs increased.

According to national standards, the District should have 600 firefighters. Currently there are only 265 firefighters, and without Measure Q there will be 90 fewer firefighters to respond to emergencies.

911 calls will not decrease, but without Measure Q, the number of firefighters and paramedics responding to these calls will decrease. This will result in dramatically increased response times to fires and medical emergencies.

To ensure long-term savings, firefighter salaries were reduced by 10%, lower salary steps were implemented, and firefighters are working with the District to establish a lower pension benefit. The structural savings identified above combined with revenue from Measure Q will sustain our current service levels beyond the life of Measure Q.

Your firefighters need your support to maintain staffing and equipment to serve you. All funds must go to local fire and emergency medical services. Annual audits will ensure that Measure Q funds are spent properly.

Consider this - $75 a year will preserve life, protect property, and keep all our neighborhood fire stations open.

Please Vote Yes on Q!

Federal Glover, County Supervisor

Teri DeLa Montanya, Hospital: Director of Emergency Services

Edward B. Haynes, Contra Costa County Advisory Fire Commissioner

Leslie Grundler, Firefighter-Paramedic

David O. Livingston, Sheriff-Coroner, Contra Costa County

Full Text of Measure Q

The people of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District ordain as follows:

SECTION 1. PURPOSE AND INTENT. It is the purpose and intent of this ordinance to authorize the levy of a special tax on parcels of real property on the secured property tax roll of Contra Costa County that are within the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (the "District") to raise revenue for the District to use in providing and enhancing necessary fire protection and prevention services and emergency services, including acquiring, operating and maintaining fire suppression equipment, payment of personnel costs, and funding capital improvements.

SECTION 2. AUTHORITY. This ordinance is adopted pursuant to Article XIIIA, Section 4, Article XIIIB, Section 4, and Article XIIIC, Section 2 of the California Constitution; Article 3.5 (commencing with Section 50075) of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of Division 1 of Title 5 of the California Government Code; Article 3.7 (commencing with Section 53720) of Chapter 4 of Division 2 of Title 5 of the California Government Code; California Government Code Section 53978; and Sections 13911 and 13913 of the California Health and Safety Code.

SECTION 3. AMOUNT AND LEVEL OF TAXES. A special tax for the purposes specified in Section 1 of this ordinance shall be levied annually, for seven years, on every parcel of taxable real property. The tax per year shall be levied at the rates specified in Exhibit A, incorporated herein. "Parcel of taxable real property" means any unit of real property in the District that receives a separate tax bill for ad valorem property taxes from the Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office. "Use code" means the code number assigned by the Contra Costa County Assessor in order to classify parcels according to use for ad valorem property tax purposes. All property that is otherwise exempt from or on which are levied no ad valorem property taxes in any year shall also be exempt from the parcel tax in that year.

SECTION 4. COLLECTION. The special tax levied on each parcel pursuant to this ordinance shall be a charge upon the parcel and shall be due and collectible as set forth in this section.

(a) Taxes as Liens Against the Property. The amount of taxes for each parcel each year shall constitute a lien on such property, in accordance with Revenue and Taxation Code Section 2187, and shall have the same effect as an ad valorem real property tax lien until fully paid.

(b) Collection. The special tax levied on each parcel shall be billed on the secured roll tax bills for ad valorem property taxes. The special tax shall be collected by Contra Costa County on behalf of the District in the same manner in which Contra Costa County collects secured roll ad valorem property taxes. The times and procedure regarding exemptions, due dates, installment payments, corrections, cancellations, refunds, late payments, penalties, liens, and collection for secured roll ad valorem property taxes apply to the collection of this tax. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the foregoing, as to this tax: (1) the secured roll tax bills shall be the only notices required for this tax; and (2) the homeowner and veterans exemptions shall not be applicable because such exemptions are determined by dollar amount value.


(a) Account. Upon the levy and collection of the tax authorized by this ordinance, an account shall be created into which the proceeds of the tax will be deposited. The proceeds of the tax authorized by this ordinance shall be applied only to the specific purposes identified in this ordinance.

(b) Annual Report. An annual report that complies with the requirements of Government Code section 50075.3 shall be filed with the District Board of Directors no later than January 1 of each fiscal year in which the tax is levied.

SECTION 6. APPROPRIATIONS LIMIT. The appropriations limit of the District established under Article XIIIB of the California Constitution shall be increased by the amount collected by the levy of this special tax in accordance with the applicable requirements of state law.

SECTION 7. SEVERABILITY. If any section, subsection, sentence, phrase or clause of this ordinance is for any reason held to be invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portion of this ordinance. The voters of the District hereby declare that they would have adopted the remainder of this ordinance, including each section, subsection, sentence, phrase or clause, irrespective of the invalidity of any other section, subsection, sentence, phrase or clause.

SECTION 8. EFFECTIVE DATE; EXPIRATION DATE. This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon its confirmation by two-thirds of the voters voting thereon in an election to be held on November 6, 2012, so that taxes shall first be collected hereunder for the tax year beginning July 1, 2013. This ordinance, and the levy of taxes authorized herein, shall terminate on June 30, 2020. Within 15 days of passage, this ordinance shall be published once, with the names of the Directors voting for and against it, in the Contra Costa Times, a newspaper of general circulation published in this County.

PASSED AND ADOPTED at a regular meeting of the Board of Directors, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, State of California, on July 31, 2012, by the following vote:

AYES: Gioia, Piepho, Mitchoff, Glover NOES: Andersen ABSENT: None ABSTAIN: None

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Created: December 17, 2012 13:44 PST
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