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Russian River fire tax set for June election

The Russian River Fire Protection District board has voted to place a parcel tax on the June 8 ballot, going to the voters for the second time in two years.

The tax would raise $600,000 a year to balance the district's budget and add $20,000 to its reserves.

The district encompasses 18 square miles in the lower Russian River resort area that has about 5,000 permanent residents.

Board President Frank Lambert said that without the tax the district would have to reduce the number of firefighters on duty at one time, affecting the service the district provides.

The stations now are staffed with a paramedic, firefighter and fire captain. Without the additional funding, the stations would have two people on duty, Lambert said.

"If this doesn't pass, when the ambulance is gone, the station will be empty," Lambert said.

Under the proposal, owners of single-family homes would pay $140 a year, with $70 for additional homes on a property. Agricultural land would be taxed $175 and industrial land, $350.

Voters in 2008 rejected a parcel tax that doubled home taxes to $80 and also had an escalation clause that could have pushed it to $160.

Fire Chief Sean Grinnell said that this tax is simpler and doesn't have the escalation clause, which he believes will give it a better chance to pass.

"We have support from groups we didn't have support from before — the Chamber of Commerce, service organizations, Rotary," Grinnell said. "We have addressed all the concerns that people had. It is less money, less confusing, there is no escalation, and the number is fair."

The measure was approved last week. Passage requires two-thirds voter approval.


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