Portola residents need to approve Measure B
Yes, it’s a large increase. Portola residents are being asked to go from paying $12.50 a year to fund their fire department, to paying that same amount per month. What does that amount — which translates into $150 per year —provide for them? Around the clock medical and fire protection.
Portola residents have been paying $12.50 annually for developed properties since 1984. That’s 33 years without any adjustment, and the time to pay more for the fire department’s services is long overdue.
The increase would bring Portola closer to its neighbors, who not only pay local property tax, but also the state fee that is approximately $150 annually per developed parcel. Graeagle residents pay $200 per year, plus the state fee; Gold Mountain residents pay $255.95, plus the state fee; and Beckwourth averages $118 per developed parcel plus the fee.
The mail ballots will be going out to registered voters in the city May 8 and must be returned by June 6 to be counted. The tax would support the Portola Volunteer Fire Department in its year-round 24/7 service to the community. Portola Fire is currently supported financially in large part by the city to fill in budget shortfalls left by the fire tax that was established in 1984. The proposed tax would potentially allow the general fund monies usually spent on the fire department to be reallocated toward other important infrastructure work in the city such maintaining parks and roads.
The Portola city manager has said that vital city services have suffered as a result of having to drain the city’s general fund every year to support a ‘bare bones’ fire department. The tax increase would bring the budget of Portola Fire to roughly $232,000 annually, and would make a large dent in bridging the deficit left by the old tax rates. Acting Fire Chief Tom Tobener said, “This is something we should all consider very seriously as members of the community. Every penny of the new tax would go to the Portola Volunteer Fire Department, not the city.
The department, which was established in 1937, provides the following services to city residents: structure, grass and wildland fire response: medical aid calls and vehicle accident response; and hazardous materials incidents. The department also provides mutual aid to surrounding agencies, maintains and inspects fire hydrants and identifies weed abatement issues, among other tasks.
The core of any community is its schools, health care and public safety. Portola Volunteer Fire Department certainly addresses the latter two, and renders the city a more desirable place to live. We believe that $150 is a reasonable price to pay for all that the department provides.