Higgins fire district tax on March 3 ballot | TheUnion.com

Higgins fire district tax on March 3 ballot

It’s official. The Higgins Fire Protection District has put Measure I on the ballot for the March 3 election.

This will be the fourth attempt in 10 years for the district to win approval for a tax measure. The district came within 29 votes in 2013, with 65% of citizens voting “yes” and falling just shy of the 66.7% needed. It got far fewer votes in 2015, however, garnering just 59% “yes” votes for a measure that would have instituted a $141-per-parcel tax.

Higgins’ current tax assessment of $25 was enacted in 1980 and has not been raised in 40 years, proponents of the tax measure said. The proposed new special parcel tax would replace that for an annual total of $240 per dwelling unit. Commercial buildings would be taxed at $30 per 1,000 square feet, while industrial space would be $35 per 1,000 square feet.

“We have a very exciting campaign that will be unfolding to the public after the new year,” said Margaret Joehnck, chairwoman of Friends of Higgins Fire for Measure I, adding the committee has already met with a number of community groups. “We’re thrilled to find no rebuttal had been filed.”

No argument against the measure was filed with the Nevada County elections office.

For $20 a month per residence, Higgins Fire Department will be able to reopen its Dog Bar station, add paramedic services to all three stations, and enhance coverage and response times for the entire district, proponents say.

“Funding decreases, by failure of previous ballot measures, have negatively impacted the Higgins Fire Protection District’s ability to provide critical emergency firefighting and medical services, and subsequently increased response times,” the argument for the measure states. “Following the failure of the funding measure of 2015, the district was no longer able to staff the Dog Bar Station. … Engines from the Combie and McCourtney stations must cover the entire 91 square miles encompassing the district’s response area.”

One big part of the argument for the measure revolves around fire insurance. Currently, emergency response times vary between 8 to 15 minutes, whereas the National Fire Protection Association recommended time is 5 to 8 minutes, proponents wrote, adding, “Public Protection Class ratings have impacted homeowner insurance rate increases and potential cancellations.”

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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