It appears that residents in the Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District on Tuesday rejected a special tax, Measure Z, designed to keep all three fire stations in the district open.
With all 43 precincts reporting but some absentee ballots left to be counted, the tax has garnered 62.6 percent of the vote; 66.7 percent is needed for it to pass.
Measure Z would have levied an additional $60 tax per parcel for the next eight years in order to raise funds that Fire Chief Frank Treanor says are desperately needed to keep all three fire stations running and avoid laying off about a quarter of the district's staff.
"First of all, my reaction is to say thank you very much to all those people who believe in the fire district," said Treanor, "But there's a reality here. We have a budget deficit of $387,00 a year, and the only way we're going to come close to balancing the budget now is by (temporarily) closing a fire house. "
Now that the measure has failed, Treanor said, he will have had to reduce his staff of 16 full-time firefighters and 12 part-time firefighters by a quarter and "brown out" one of his three fire stations each day.
Already, the fire house in Cotati was closed on Wednesday as a result of the measure failing, he said. The changes will affect part-time firefighters the most and should not result in layoffs, Treanor said.
Treanor explained earlier that since 2006, the district had made numerous cuts to save money, but that even so, the devaluation of property in the area resulted in taxes simply not bringing in enough for the district to operate as it has been.
Last year, the district operated with a $177,000 deficit. This year, a more-than $384,000 deficit is projected.
The measure would have generated about $426,000 annually, Treanor said, enough to keep all three fire stations running all year, including one in Penngrove and another at 99 Liberty School Road in Petaluma.
(Contact Jamie Hansen at email@example.com.)
Excerpt from City of Santa Rosa's Facebook page:
If you wish to make donations of food, the Redwood Empire Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul are accepting ready-to-eat, non-perishable foods for evacuation centers. St. Vincent de Paul is located at 610 Wilson St. Phone: 707-584-1579.
Donations are being accepted at the Redwood Empire Food Bank at 3990 Brickway Blvd. between the hours 8am-8pm. The food bank also needs volunteers. Sign up online at refb.org/volunteer.
Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa also takes food donations. Please call 707-528-8712.
The shelters are also at capacity for donated clothing. However, the Salvation Army is accepting clothes and supplies at 93 Stony Point Circle. Call 707 542-0981 for more information.
For financial donations, the Redwood Credit Union has established a North Bay Relief Fund – 100 percent of donations go to fire victims. Go to www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief to donate.
Thank you, again, for your generous support!</