Penn Valley Fire District Assessment Project
The Penn Valley Fire Benefit Assessment is on each parcel of land within the Penn Valley Fire Protection District. Parcel assessments range in amount depending on whether a parcel is residential, non-residential or unimproved. There are currently 6,563 assessed parcels in the PVFPD.
The current assessment for developed residential parcels was last adjusted in 2005 and is $80.54 per year or $6.70 per month.
Since 2005 emergency calls for fire suppression and medical services have increased 62 percent.
According the California Government Code (Section 50078 et. seq.) any re-assessment must reflect the reasonable cost of the proportional special benefit conferred on each assessed parcel.
The additional cost per parcel imposed by this new benefit assessment is responsible and reasonable considering the department’s current staff levels, response times and ability to recruit and retain qualified personnel.
Staff Levels and Response Times
At current staffing levels, the fire department is only able to staff each of two fire stations with two full time personnel per shift. This staffing level is 50% of the recommended national standard. As a result of the deficient staff levels, PVFPD is having a hard time meeting mandated response times on a consistent basis.
These response times impact calls to fires and also calls for medical emergencies. PVFD is the only fire department in western Nevada County staffed with Firefighter/Paramedics and equipped with ambulances.
Some funding for the paramedic ambulance services is contingent on meeting mandated response times.
Paramedics have more advanced education and training than Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). Paramedics can utilize advanced airway techniques for those not breathing, apply cardiac monitors that allow diagnosis of heart attack and then transport to the appropriate specialty center, establish IV access and administer advanced medications, correct collapsed lungs and complete airway obstructions.
The proposed new fire benefit assessment would fund an additional of six (6) new Fire Fighter/Paramedics and help the department achieve its goal of reducing response times to between 6 and 8 minutes.
Recruitment & Retention
Salaries and benefits for firefighter/paramedics in the PVFPD are near the bottom when compared to those in other districts in the county and in the region. As a result, the PVFPD has a difficult time recruiting new talent. Due to the low compensation, most new hires are brand new firefighters that require training and certifications which are additional costs to the district. These costs can only be recouped by retaining the employees.
Because PVFPD does not provide competitive compensation, new hires often treat the district as a “starter” job and once trained move on to other districts with better wages and benefits.
Costs and Benefits of the Assessment
Parcel owners in the PVFPD pay less for fire protection than those in surrounding districts. The current fire benefit assessment of $80.54 per year for parcels with a single-family residence will increase approximately $216.
This increase will fund 6 (six) new Firefighter/Paramedics and increase current salaries and benefits to make them more competitive. This is an increase of $0.59 per day or $18 per month. With heightened fire danger and an aging population that relies more on emergency medical services, improving department staffing and retaining talent is imperative. Considering the 62% increase in calls since the last assessment, this is not unreasonable.
How the Voting Process Works
On May 25 (final day of voting) the PVFPD will hold a special public meeting at 6:30pm where they will invite comment/input from the community. Once all public comment is completed, they will ask for any final ballots to be handed in and will then officially close the vote— all ballots previously returned via USPS or hand delivered (either to the fire station or during the meeting) will be counted.
For More Information
The campaign for support of the assessment will kick off in earnest on March 14, 2020 (see below). At that time, Penn Valley Fire District will update its website with more detailed information about the assessment.
The website update will also include access to an Engineer’s Study. An Engineer’s Study is a document prepared by a third party, pursuant to the California Government Code, which assesses the reasonableness of increasing an assessment. Visit the website after March 14 to access this additional information www.ProtectPennValley.org
How You Can Help
— Host a House Gathering March 14 – April 10, 2020 – We are looking for people to host house gatherings of 5+ people.
All you need to do is provide drinks and a place for people to sit. We will provide a firefighter or committee member that will educate your guests.
— Yard Signage beginning March 13th, 2020 – If you live in a location that has good visibility, please consider allowing us to place a yard sign in support of the assessment in your yard. All you have to do is agree and we will take care of the rest.
Become an Endorser today – If you are committed to supporting the assessment, please allow us to post your name on our committee website. The more people we have the better.
Write a Letter to the Editor – Show your support by writing a letter to one or more of our local media sources or posting your support via social media. Sample support letters can be obtained when you sign up to help.
You’re Invited to the Kick-Off Party! Enjoy free hotdogs and free beverages (beer and sodas). Fun for your family!
— Lake Wildwood Residents: Saturday, March 14th from Noon – 2pm.Location: Pavilion Commodore Park. Hosted by Hank Weston, former District 4 Supervisor and retired fire fighter.
— Penn Valley Residents: Saturday, March 21 from Noon – 2 p.m. Location: Western Gateway Park, covered picnic area. Hosted by Sue Hoek, District 4 Supervisor.
In addition attached is a volunteer form that has many other opportunities for you to consider.
If you can help in any way, please contact Mark Schaefer at 530-559-5050 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will sign you up. I hope we can depend on your support! Committee for PVFD Benefit Assessment
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