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Protect Penn Valley

Penn Valley Fire Protection District

Each property owner will soon receive a mailed ballot (one per parcel) asking for approval to adjust the current fire assessment for your property. 

Improved parcels (properties with homes) now pay $80.54 per year for fire services. The ballot you will receive requests that amount change to $296.41 per year, a difference of $215.87 per year. That is a little less than 60¢ per day.

Penn Valley Fire has provided fire services for only $80.54 since 2005. The sad reality is that calls for service have increased by 62% since that time. The cost of operating has increased and more staff is required to respond quickly enough to meet national standards and properly serve our community. Penn Valley Fire simply can’t provide a quality level of service for less than $296.41 per improved parcel.

We know you have questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked.

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How do we vote?

In the coming week all Penn Valley parcel owners will receive an important piece of mail from the Penn Valley Fire Protection District. The contents will include an introduction, a paper ballot and a stamped, self-addressed envelope. In order to be counted your ballot must be returned (postmarked) no later than June 2, 2020. It must be signed by the property owner and marked with either a YES or NO vote.

If I don’t own property in Penn Valley Fire Protection District will I get to vote?

No, only parcel owners will receive a ballot.

What if I don’t return my ballot?

All ballots signed and returned by the deadline of June 2, 2020 will be counted. Ballots that are not returned will not be considered in the election outcome.

What are we voting on?

Penn Valley Fire Protection District is asking parcel owners to indicate whether they support or oppose the proposed increase to the existing fire suppression assessment for each property within Penn Valley Fire Protection District. The increase has been determined necessary to continue to support the existing level of fire suppression services. The increase will be used to hire and retain an additional six firefighter/paramedics to improve response times.

How much are we talking about?

Unimproved, improved and commercial properties are all assessed different fees. For most of us we are talking about our home, which is assessed as an improved parcel. In 2005 parcel owners approved a fee of $80.54 per year for fire suppression. This proposal adds an additional $215.87 per year for a total of $296.41 annually.

Why is this necessary, especially in these challenging times?

Here is the situation: In order to meet the nationally mandated response times there is immediate need to hire and retain an additional six Firefighter/Paramedics. 

With a 62% increase in calls for service, increasingly 2 and sometimes 3 calls per hour, there simply are not enough personnel to handle these calls. The only remedy is to hire an additional two people per shift (2 additional firefighter/paramedics per each of 3 shifts) for a total of six new Firefighter/Paramedics.

I appreciate we need a robust Fire Dept. But the amount—it seems like a lot.

It is an increase of 59¢ a day. An independent third party looked into the numbers and came to realize that this is the true number required to actually provide the service. It makes no sense for the fire agency to ask for an amount that doesn’t allow them to do what they need to do, which is hire six additional firefighter/paramedics. 

It will take the addition of six new firefighter/paramedics to run another engine 24/7, made increasingly more necessary as 2-3 calls per hour come in. While call volume has increased 62%, the assessment is a larger increase. This is because you can’t simply add 62% of a firefighter (or crew of firefighters).

Penn Valley Fire has reached a point where adding a third staffed response vehicle is vital to maintaining service.

The district hasn’t asked for an increase for as long as it possibly could put it off, but that time is now. Every aspect of the district’s operation was closely examined, as well as looking at consolidations with neighboring agencies. No further efficiencies are available.

We can’t do much right now in this time of uncertainty but this is something we CAN do to keep our local community on solid footing.

What do I get out of this fee increase?

Improved response times.

Aside from the obvious importance to each of us—fire doubles in size each minute and lives are literally saved or lost in minutes during medical emergency– it’s also important to recognize that the time it takes, from dispatch to arrival at scene, is rated and our insurance rates may be determined based on how long it takes emergency personnel and equipment to reach us.

If Penn Valley Fire response times fail to meet mandated response times we will all pay the price in the long term. Property lost, lives lost and the cost and/or availability of insurance are all impacted by the length of time it takes for our firefighter/paramedics to arrive on scene.

We, as parcel owners, will need to decide whether it is valuable enough to us to invest an additional 59¢ a day to provide resources to our firefighters so they will be able to maintain the response times they need to meet in order to keep us safe in our moment of emergency.

For more information we invite everyone to please visit http://www.pennvalleyfire.com and protectpennvalley.org


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