Months after the Carr, Delta and Hirz Fires ravaged the Shasta Lake area, local voters took to the polls to vote on everything from state representation to local initiatives. One of those propositions was Measure D, a new tax that would fund local firefighting services.
Although Measure D received 56 percent of the vote, it did not reach the needed two-thirds majority to pass.
The measure would have been a property tax providing money to the underfunded fire station, which currently relies on 15 volunteers to help supplement its staff. The station currently employs 10 people, and due to a depleted budget, will need to implement layoffs in 2019.
“I’m not exactly sure where we’ll go from here,” said Fire Chief Dennis Beck to the Record Searchlight. “It’s pretty obvious our base income won’t support staffing. As of right now, this was the way to have a secured income. Now we have to wait and see.”
Although Shasta Lake accounts for most of the fire district’s territory, the district currently gets no money from the city because it’s not under contract with it. And with California’s rising minimum wage, the fire station will not be able to afford its entry level positions.
The property tax increase would have added $50 per year for a resident’s first home, $40 for each additional home, $20 per vacant parcel and 5 cents per square foot for commercial buildings. Estimated annual income would’ve been about $284,759.
Of course, the recent major wildfire battles in the area were not the responsibility of the local fire station, as Cal Fire and the Forest Service shared that work. But for a community so devastated by the fires of 2018, the vote-down of Measure D was a staunch rebuff of any additional taxes. And an ironic one at that.