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Supes Vote To Put Sales Tax Measure For Fire Services On The March Ballot

Sarah akiru

Nov. 05, 2019

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday introduced an ordinance that would put a half-cent sales tax measure before voters in March that would increase the number of fire personnel among the county's 35 fire agencies.
The Sonoma County Wildfire Prevention, Emergency Alert and Response sales tax ballot measure on March 3 will require two-thirds approval. A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Nov. 12.
The County and its local fire agencies have been working since 2015 on a regional consolidation of its fire agencies, and that effort increased after the 2017 wildfires fires in the county with the development of a Deployment Plan for long-term planning and funding to enhanced fire and emergency alert services in the county.
The plan would add 200 full-time fire personnel, nine new fire stations, funding for vegetation management and inspections, reducing fuel loads, wood chipping, roadside vegetation clearance on public and private roads and tree removal.
It was determined that new revenue sources were needed to bolster the local property and parcel taxes that has been collected by the local fire agencies, and in January the Board directed staff to explore putting a half-cent sales tax before county voters.
"I think we're in a really good place. The regional model is the way to go," Supervisor Susan Gorin who lost her hone in the 2017 wildfire.
"This will make Sonoma County a safer place to live and work," Board Chair David Rabbitt said.
"We need more firefighters in this county," Sonoma County Fire District Chief Mark Heine said. He said the county was fortunate no other major fires were burning in northern California while more than 5,000 local, state and firefighters from other parts of the country were battling the 77,758-acre Kincade Fire in north Sonoma County.
The County has until Dec. 6 to submit the proposed tax measure to the Registrar of Voters Office.
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