The Ebbetts Pass Fire District is facing a nearly $400,000 budget deficit in Fiscal Year 2019-2020. Despite taking numerous actions over past years to cut costs and increase efficiencies, the District reached the conclusion that sponsoring a special tax measure was the only way to avoid having to cut back critical paramedic, ambulance and fire protection services to the Ebbetts Pass community. The special tax measure is called “Measure A” and it will be decided by a mail-in vote. For the measure to pass, 66.6% of eligible voters must vote “Yes”. Ballots will be mailed to residents in early April 2019, and they must be mailed back to the County no later than May 7 to be counted. Click here to view a Measure A PowerPoint presentation.
Staff and Board members at EPFD are eager to educate and inform the community members they serve about Measure A. Contact the District at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 795-1646.
Watch EPFD Chief Mike Johnson Discuss Measure A
Testimonials from the Community
Detailed Overview of Measure A
The Ebbetts Pass Fire District has been running in a budget deficit and will no longer be able operate at its current service level, starting July 1, 2019. The District takes great pride in its ability to provide a high level of Advanced Life Support, Ambulance Transport and Fire Protection services to our citizens. The District is able to accomplish this because of two special taxes that our voters approved by over two-thirds majority in 1998 and 2004. However, these two taxes were flat fees with no annual increases. Each was designed to fund its program for a period of about 10 years. The District, through several cost saving measures, has been able to stretch these funds to last 15 and 20 years. However, the special tax budget is no longer sufficient to support these programs. In 2019, the District is facing a $400,000 deficit. This is without any funding for Capital Outlay (replacement of equipment). The cost of nearly everything has increased over the past 20 years. The District’s budget data reflects a 2.4% annual increase in expenditures over the last 15 years. With revenues remaining flat and costs increasing, the result is a budget shortfall.
EPFD management and employees have worked closely together to manage the provided funding and to extend the lifespan of the Special Taxes, including concessions from the employees group, restructuring the fire station loan payments, reducing health care costs by joining a Joint Powers Authority, leaving the assistant chief position vacant since 2011 and freezing capital outlay (not purchasing new items such as fire trucks, SCBAs, and heart monitors), to name a few. We have also actively sought alternative funding, including grants. At the end of this FY 2018-2019, we will no longer be able to use the District’s reserve funding to balance the budget and our lack of capital purchases has left our fleet worn out and in need of replacement (our newest Type 1 fire engine is 25 years old). Without additional funding going into the next fiscal year, we will be unable to fill the required daily personnel openings and effectively go from two ambulances each day to one, on a regular basis. This will also affect our ISO Class 2 Rating. This rating change could result in increased homeowners insurance rates and a decrease in availability of insurance.
In 2018, EPFD created a Focus Group to establish several different options for moving forward with a Special Tax and to determine what level of service the community would support. The Focus Group met and spent many hours with community members before holding a town hall meeting. At the town hall meeting, we explained the financial problem and the impact it could have on our community. We then requested the community’s input through written surveys to determine what they thought the best option was moving forward.
The Community’s Choice
The community requested that EPFD not only continue to provide the current service level, but they also recommended that we increase staffing on our Paramedic Fire Engine from two persons each day to three persons each day. This greatly affects the ability of the District to provide resources throughout our District during peak emergency times. EPFD would also continue to provide a minimum of two Advanced Life Support ambulances with no out-of-pocket transport expense to our citizens. The community also requested that we include an annual increase in Measure A that would have a sunset in 10 years.
Measure A is a special tax that would be in addition to EPFD’s existing special taxes:
- $134.00 for improved parcels, with an annual increase of $6.28 for 10 years.
- $43.10 for unimproved parcels, with an annual increase of $2.42 for 10 years