Primary Argument Against Measure Q
Safety services are essential function of government, but like households, they have to live within their income. The Contra Costa Fire Protection District (The District) says it needs a parcel tax to provide the time to solve its financial problems; the facts say otherwise.
The District has been living beyond its means for years. As spending exceeded revenue, the Board of Supervisors (which serves as the governing board of The District) used reserves to fill the budget gap. Now that its reserves are gone, The District is asking taxpayers to pay more to support its unsustainable spending.
Without this parcel tax The District projects a budget deficit next year. With this parcel tax – even using The District’s optimistic cost projections – a budget deficit is expected again in just three years. There is every indication The District will continue to live beyond its means. Consider:
- The District’s expenses for pensions, lifetime health benefits, and Pension Obligation Bond payments are increasing.
- The County Administrator stated that for every $1 of salary, employee benefits cost The District another $1.03 which is excessive even when compared to other public employees.
- The Board of Supervisors is just now starting negotiations for lower pension benefits for future new hires. Even if the union agrees, the reduced benefits will not have a meaningful financial impact for a decade.
- The District has inadequately funded vehicle replacement and building improvements for years.
With Measure Q, the District offers voters an ultimatum: Pay more taxes or accept reduced services.
By opposing this measure, taxpayers present an alternative: Don’t ask for more money until you have a plan in place that actually solves The District’s long-term cost problems.
Vote NO on Measure Q!
Rebuttal Argument Against Measure Q
The Contra Costa Times says this parcel tax offers a “false choice” and is “political blackmail” that ignores “the potential savings that could have, and still could be, attained if fire district officials make meaningful pension changes and seriously examine ways to restructure . . . .” We agree.
Even worse, the $75-a-year parcel tax will not solve the District’s financial problems. Both the Fire Chief and the Board of Supervisors (which serve as the District’s board) have admitted that. This tax would only temporarily delay the changes needed to generous pension benefits and redundant delivery of services.
For years, both the Fire Chief’s annual budget message and the County Budget Report have warned of fiscal distress. Rather than demonstrating genuine leadership and taking appropriate action, county supervisors continued business as usual. Over a year ago, the Board quietly promised firefighters they would work to put a parcel tax on this year’s ballot.
The District created this crisis by using up savings to balance budgets and failing to make necessary, timely changes. District officials still have no plan to solve long term problems, preferring instead to pursue a temporary fix and further postpone tough reform decisions.
Residents refuse to be blackmailed to pay more for essential safety services. By voting NO on Measure Q voters demand the District FIX PENSIONS FIRST before asking taxpayers to pay more.
Vote NO on Measure Q!