In the June 21 Press article “East Contra Costa Fire Protection District examines alternative funding options,” Fire Chief Brian Helmick did a great job of explaining and updating us on what he thinks we need to do to fix our fire-protection problem. Bryan Scott of East County Voters (ECV) suggested an alternative idea. I firmly believe they both have merit and that we should not be looking at just one solution to fix this major problem that’s been going on since 1978! We all need to work together as one entity for the common good, with one goal: to increase the safety of our residents, whether it be a fire, a heart attack, a choking baby or a car accident.
I could support the idea of a new tax that Chief Helmick is proposing, but can all the residents afford $300 per year? Maybe a $100 to $125 per year is something everyone could get behind. ECV’s idea of doing the initiative is not to take away anything that the cities are currently getting, they are only suggesting that a percentage of the increase of the future tax dollars be allocated to public safety, which is one of the city’s line items anyway.
As far as having two items on the same ballot and Chief Helmick’s concern about confusing the voters because the message is different, I suggest both groups work together to explain the full concept of their ideas in a way that will benefit all concerned. With the correct public meetings and the right informational messages that say, “Vote yes on this item” and “Vote yes on this one too” they both can win!
So, if we all work together to ask for that $100 - $125 per year from the residents and we ask the cities to give up some of their future property tax increases, (that we know they will get due to all the new homes being built and as the value of our homes increase.) then with both of these ideas working together, everybody wins and nobody loses.
I encourage and request that we sit down together and hammer out a solution incorporating these two ideas and possibly come up with a third as well. Because I believe there isn’t just one fix to the health, safety and fire protection problem we currently have. Join the conversation: let me know your thoughts and ideas to help fix the problem we all face. Many hands make light work.