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NC ponders tax for fire protection

Some two weeks after a blaze gutted the former Nevada City Elks building, city officials will discuss whether residents should pay more for fire protection.

On Monday, the City Council will discuss the pros and cons of a possible fire tax proposal. No dollar amount has been discussed.



A previous fire tax proposal was defeated at the polls in November.




The fire tax will be discussed at the same time the Nevada City Fire Department is considering a joint staffing arrangement with the Nevada County Consolidated and the 49er Fire Protection districts.

The goal is to have 24-hour coverage seven days a week, Nevada City Fire Chief Greg Wasley said this week.

The proposed tax measure was discussed Friday at a meeting of the city’s Finance Committee.

But neither Consolidated nor 49er fire representatives came to the meeting, and committee members, including Mayor Kerry Arnett and Councilman Pat Dyer, did not make a recommendation to the full City Council. (Dyer is expected to step down from the council Monday.)

The committee said it wanted to better understand the financial ramification of a possible joint staffing agreement with the other districts before considering a tax measure.

“There are a lot of questions down the road,” Arnett said.

The fire department operates on $291,000 a year.

When the last fire tax was approved in 1985, a fire truck cost $70,000 to $80,000, Wasley said. Fire engines now cost $250,000, he added.

The number of incidents the Nevada City Fire Department responds to has also increased, he said.

The calls have more than doubled in seven years, data shows. Nevada City firefighters responded to 263 fire calls in 1994, and 563 in 2001.

Grass Valley Fire Chief Hank Weston on Friday called the joint staffing agreement between Consolidated and the Grass Valley Fire Department “excellent.”

The current tax rate brings in $30,000 a year for fire protection, with residential homeowners paying $12 annually.

Know and Go

WHAT: Nevada City City Council

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall, 317 Broad St.

INFORMATION: 265-2496


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