One of the most contested issues in Contra Costa County this campaign season is Measure Q is approved, which will levy a parcel tax of $75 each year on owners of single-family homes. Industrial and commercial landowners would pay $75 per quarter-acre. Agricultural and vacant property owners would pay $37.50 per parcel. Apartment owners would pay $37.50 per unit. The proposed tax would go into effect July 1, 2013 and terminate on June 30, 2020.
The tax, if approved, is expected to generate $16.8 million a year in additional tax revenue for the district. Over 100 retired workers for the district are being paid in excess of $100,000 each year in retirement benefits. 8 retired workers for the district receive an annual pension in excess of $200,000.
Measure S, a $197/year parcel tax proposal for the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, was on the June 5, 2012 ballot. It was decisively defeated, with 56.2% of voters rejecting it. A 2/3rds supermajority vote is required for approval. Fire chief Daryl Louder claims that if Measure Q parcel tax fails, he will have to close seven fire stations in July 2013 and three in 2014. The editorial board of the Contra Costa Times wrote, “Residents of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District are being offered a false choice: Approve a $75-a-year parcel tax on the Nov. 6 ballot or face the shutdown of nearly one-third of the district’s stations. It’s political blackmail.”
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The Contra Costa Fire Protection District is often referred to as “ConFire.” The district includes 28 fire stations. It serves 304 square miles in nine cities and several unincorporated areas throughout the central part of Contra Costa County. The fire protection district is “among the 14 largest metropolitan fire agencies” in California. It serves a population of approximately 600,000 people.