On Tuesday March 3, 2020, we will cast our votes for the California Presidential Primary election. Measure R will be included on the ballots for voters who live in the Arcata Fire Protection District, serving the five communities of McKinleyville, Manila, Bayside, Jacoby Creek and Arcata.
The Fire District can no longer afford to continue normal operations with funding levels the voters last approved 13 years ago.
Measure R funding will prevent firefighter layoffs, enabling continued staffing at the Fire District’s three stations: Downtown Arcata, McKinleyville and the Mad River Station on Janes Road near the hospital.
The three stations cover 62 square miles, and serve over 35,000 people, 24 hours a day – 365 days of the year. For reasons of safety, a minimum of two firefighters are staffed at each station.
Calls for service have nearly doubled in the past two decades. In 2019 the Fire District responded to approximately 4,000 calls for service. When firefighters respond to emergency calls, a few minutes can make a huge difference to save lives and property.
Calls for service include life threatening medical emergencies, vehicle accidents, hazardous materials spills, alarm activations, lift assists, fire prevention public education, state mandated safety inspections, along with many other public service needs.
Among the many terrible consequences of firefighter layoffs, staffing only two fire stations would have four firefighters covering the entire 62-square-mile district! Additionally, the closure of a fire station would likely affect the district’s ISO rating insurance companies use to set the costs of fire insurance policies for the area.
Measure R would be “bare bones” funding the district needs to pay the costs of doing business. For property owners, costs for Measure R will be based on property type and size.
Here are some examples: A single family residence would add $118 per year to the existing $88 Benefit Assessment tax voters approved in 2006. A rural residence would increase $192 per year, and a mobile home in a park would increase $90 per year.
Breaking this down more, staffing all three fire stations 24 hours per day/365 days per year would cost a single family residence a total of 57 cents per day; a rural residence 89 cents per day; and a mobile home in a park would pay 43 cents per day.
If approved, Measure R would update tax bills and replace a special tax approved by the voters in 1997. And here’s another thing: Measure R has a built in “sunset clause” where it would expire in 10 years, thus requiring another vote of the people for the Measure R tax to continue.
The Fire District’s finances are fully transparent and accountable! In an ongoing effort to prevent firefighter layoffs, the Board of Directors, the staff, and the Volunteer Fire Association, have continually worked hard to cut costs, secure grants, and implement new efficiencies wherever possible. However, increasing operational costs continue to exceed revenues.
Measure R requires a two-thirds vote to pass. So every single vote is extremely important! The need to keep three fire stations operational has never been greater!
Please join me on Tuesday, March 3 to Vote Yes on Measure R!
For more information please visit arcatafire.org/funding-measure-questions.
On Social Media: #531AFD.
Randy Mendosa has worked with local emergency service / first responder agencies for 40 years. He currently serves on the Arcata Fire Protection District Board of Directors, representing Division 3 which covers North Arcata.