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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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Special District

Consolidated Fire Protection District of Los Angeles County
Measure FD Parcel Tax - 2/3 Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passing

372,726 votes yes (52.59%)

336,075 votes no (47.41%)

Shall an ordinance ensuring local firefighter/paramedic emergency response, involving house fires, wildfires, heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents, to hire/train firefighter/paramedics, upgrade/replace aging firefighter safety equipment, vehicles, facilities, life-saving rescue tools, and emergency communications technology, by levying 6 cents per square foot of certain parcel improvements, providing $134 million annually, limited to 2% annual adjustment, until ended by voters, exempting low-income seniors, with independent citizens oversight, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters of Los Angeles County

The Question

COUNTY MEASURE FD

Fire Protection District-Emergency Response & Infrastructure Special Parcel Tax

Requires a 2/3s vote to pass

What would this measure do?

 Measure FD  authorizes Los Angeles County to impose a parcel tax to provide funds for the LA County Fire Department to hire and train additional firefighters and paramedics, maintain, update, and replace emergency response infrastructure, including firefighter safety equipment, vehicles and aircraft, facilities, life-saving rescue tools, and emergency communications technology, to improve  fire protection and emergency medical response. Only the 58 cities that contract for county fire protection and all unincorporated areas will be taxed and will vote on this tax.

 

 

 

 

 

The Proposal

This parcel tax will be at the rate of $0.06 per square foot (SF) of all structural improvements on all taxable properties not exempt from property tax. The tax will increase by 2% per year. This amounts to $60 for a 1000 SF building. (The first year inflation increase would be $1.20 for a total of $61.20) There is no term limit or sunset on this tax

Supporters say

PRO: 

1.  LA County needs more skilled firefighters to fight increasingly more severe and frequent wildfires that sweep into residential areas.

2.  9-1-1 calls for paramedics have increased more than 50% in 10 years but the paramedics have only increased by 5% stretching their capacity to respond to emergencies.

 

3.  LACFD’s communications system is badly out of date and incompatible with wireless networks.

Opponents say

CON: 

1.  LA County is awash in increased property tax dollars, but the Supervisors prioritize pet projects instead of vital firefighting.

2.  This tax does not exempt all seniors nor does it exempt all renters.

 

3.  This tax has no sunset-it goes on forever.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Mary C. Wickham, County Counsel

Approval of Measure FD ("Measure") would authorize the Consolidated Fire Protection District of Los Angeles County ("District") to levy a special tax ("Tax") annually on improved parcels within the 56 cities and unincorporated areas of the County of Los Angeles ("County") in the District identified in the Measure, commencing with fiscal year 2020-21. The Tax shall be levied at a rate of 6 cents per square foot of structural improvements up to 100,000 square feet, excluding square footage of improvements used for parking, on all taxable parcels. The rate shall be adjusted by 2 percent (2%) annually, or by the California Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. The Tax has no expiration date. This Measure was placed on the ballot by resolution of the County and District.

Tax proceeds as designated by the ordinance will be used by the District to hire and train firefighters, paramedics, and staff, maintain, upgrade, and replace emergency response infrastructure, safety equipment, vehicles, aircraft, facilities, life-saving rescue tools, and communications technology, to improve fire protection and emergency medical response. Proceeds from the Tax will not be used for unfunded workers' compensation or pension liabilities. Tax revenues will be expended by the District pursuant to an annual expenditure plan approved by the County Board of Supervisors ("Board") prior to June 30th of each year and a needs assessment shall be conducted by the District every 15 years for updates.

The annual allocation of the Tax for nine of the District's contract cities will be expended to fund services described in the Measure, with a minimum 30 percent (30%) of revenue for hiring, training, capital improvements, and fire station replacement costs; and a minimum 30 percent (30%) to offset overhead costs assigned to each city for minor facility maintenance, vehicles, equipment, and systems net of the expenditures for levying and administering the Tax. The District and cities will evaluate the allocations every three years.

The County Auditor-Controller shall file an independent audit with the Board each year. An Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee shall provide annual review to ensure proceeds are expended only as authorized in the Measure, and report to the Board. Tax proceeds shall be deposited into ten separate accounts, for the contract cities and remaining areas of the District as specified in the Measure.

Any property otherwise exempt from ad valorem property taxes in a tax year shall also be exempt from the Tax to the same extent. Additionally, upon application to the Fire Chief of the District, parcels owned and occupied by individuals over the age of 62 who are the head of a household with a household income that does not exceed the Low-Income limit for the County, as specified in the Measure, shall be exempt from the Tax.

The Tax shall be collected by the County Tax Collector at the same time, in the same manner, and subject to the same interest and penalties applicable to ad valorem property taxes. The Tax may be repealed or reduced by the District.

This Measure requires a two-thirds (2/3) vote for passage.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Today, we face historically unprecedented wildfire danger, with larger fires and a longer fire season threatening homes and businesses, while assistance from other fire departments across the state during large fires is less reliable than ever.

At the same time, 9-1-1 medical emergencies have sharply increased – up over 50% in the last decade – while we've only been able to add 5% more paramedic squads due to funding limitations.

As 9-1-1 call volumes continue to climb, and wildfires become more severe and more frequent, additional funds for emergency services are urgently needed.
The brave men and women who charge into danger to rescue residents from fires, floods and earthquakes are the same people who respond to more than 1,000 9-1-1 calls every day, providing medical assistance to victims of heart attacks, strokes, car accidents and other emergencies.

LA County Fire's 30-year-old communication systems – essential to coordinate emergency response and communicate directly with hospitals when transporting patients – are incompatible with today's wireless networks. 

The increasing demand for emergency services is placing enormous physical and emotional strain on emergency responders.

Vote YES on Measure FD to provide your local fire department with critically needed, locally-controlled funding the State cannot touch.

Measure FD will:

-  Hire/train more firefighter/paramedics, and replace aging firefighter safety gear to keep them safe

-  Improve 9-1-1 response times and evacuations by updating emergency communication systems

-  Replace 20-year-old fire engines and rescue vehicles – frequently out of service and expensive to repair – to ensure local firefighter/paramedics can respond quickly, and effectively fight house fires and wildland fires

-  Provide rescue equipment, like Jaws of Life, and thermal imaging cameras ensuring emergency responders can locate and rescue children and elderly and disabled persons who cannot escape on their own

Help your local fire department better serve you.

Vote YES on MEASURE FD.

DAVE GILLOTTE
Fire Captain/President, Los Angeles County Firefighters

RICK MARTINEZ
Fire Chief Emeritus/Director, California Fire Foundation Wildfire Relief Program

MARIANNE GAUSCHE-HILL, M.D.
Pediatric Emergency Room Doctor/CA Emergency Medical Services Director of the Year

AARON AUMANN
Director of Fire Science and Paramedic Training, University of Antelope Valley

DARYL L. OSBY
Fire Chief, Los Angeles County Fire Department

Arguments AGAINST

Vote NO on Measure FD

Given California's history with devastating wildfires, we all want to support the good work of our firefighters. But this tax is about the politicians, who have misused the money we are already paying in property taxes. Instead of funding critical, high-priority needs including the Fire Department, the politicians are spending property tax revenue on everything else, endangering our firefighters.

We have had enough of this. Property taxes are intended to fund property-related services, such as fire and police protection. We are tired of politicians diverting money away from these important priorities, causing a crisis, and then demanding tax increases.

Measure FD is a FOREVER TAX that the Los Angeles Times called "sneaky." It starts at $60 per 1,000 square feet of your home or business, then goes up every year by as much as 2%.

Increases the Cost of Living

This tax would increase the cost of housing and lead to higher prices as businesses passed the cost down to consumers. Supermarket prices will go even higher.

Many Seniors and Renters Will Pay this Tax

This tax DOES NOT exempt all seniors. Politicians have attempted to increase your property taxes over and over. Enough.

This tax DOES NOT exempt all renters. L.A. County's rent control law allows some landlords to pass this cost through to tenants.

The politicians have let us down by failing to plan for replacement of Fire Department equipment, even as rising property values have brought in record-high property tax revenue. The money has been misspent, and there are no guarantees in this measure that your tax dollars will be used effectively and efficiently.

This is a shameless attempt to erode Proposition 13 and increase your property taxes.

Vote NO on Measure FD.

JON COUPAL
President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

MICHAEL D. ANTONOVICH
Los Angeles County Supervisor (RET)

Replies to Arguments FOR

Where was this list of priorities when the county was preparing the current budget, the prior year budget, or the budget for the year before that?

There's more money than ever coming into the county from property taxes. According to the L.A. County Chief Executive Officer, locally generated property taxes totaled $5.032 billion in 2016-17, $5.332 billion in 2017-18, $5.677 billion in 2018-19 and $6.044 billion in 2019-20!

There is no need for another new tax. Property owners are already paying a special tax to fund the fire department. It started at $48 per single-family home in 1997 and now is over $70. The county supervisors could and should spend property tax revenue from the General Fund to pay for firefighters, paramedics, vehicles and equipment.

The politicians have put pet projects and bureaucracy ahead of public safety.

Here are some of the budget items that the county supervisors thought were a higher priority than fire protection and emergency medical services: "Refinements" at the Music Center Plaza, a "mobile-friendly design" for the website of the Department of Public Social Services, a newly created Department of Arts and Culture, and "consultant studies" of office space needs.

Why was there enough money for everything except the fire department?

Is it because the county supervisors know that if they asked you to vote for a tax increase to pay for websites, bureaucrats and consultants, you'd say no?

Say no to this budget scam. Say no to tax increases. Vote NO on Measure FD.

JON COUPAL
President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

MICHAEL D. ANTONOVICH
Los Angeles County Supervisor (RET)

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

FACT: Measure FD funds are dedicated to hiring and training local firefighter/paramedics, and replacing outdated firefighter safety gear, communication tools and lifesaving rescue equipment needed in medical emergencies, house fires and wildfires.

Read Measure FD in your voter pamphlet or at www.WeAreLACountyFire.org. By law, funds cannot be touched by the State or diverted to any other purpose. 

FACT: Citizen oversight ensures transparency.

FACT: Low income senior citizens are exempt.

FACT: This measure will not affect supermarket prices. It will ensure rapid response to heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, structure fires and wildfires.

FACT: LA County Fire has not asked voters for new funding since 1997. Since then, medical emergencies have doubled in frequency, extreme wildfires have become normal, and outside help from other fire departments is no longer reliable.

FACT: LA County Fire's budget is completely separate from Los Angeles County's. There is no other source of funding to meet these needs.

FACT: Firefighters and paramedics plead for your YES vote on Measure FD because rising numbers of 911 calls, medical emergencies and stronger wildfires are straining our local firefighter/paramedics to the breaking point. In the words of one first responder: "Measure FD is our 911 call."

When wildfires threaten our homes and businesses, firefighter/paramedics rush to protect us. When a loved one suffers an accident or medical injury, they're first to the scene. Now, they're asking for our help.

That's why neighbors, homeowners, businesses, Republicans, Democrats and thousands of others are standing with the men and women of our Fire Department.

Please join us.

Vote YES on Measure FD.

MARIA S. SALINAS
President and CEO
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

DON KNABE
L.A. County Supervisor, Retired

CAMERON SMYTH
Mayor, City of Santa Clarita and Former State Assemblyman

GIL HURTADO
Cardiac Arrest Survivor/South Gate Resident

SHALYN LITZ
Tick Wildfire Survivor

Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure FD
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No on Measure FD

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