2014-04-03 / Front Page

Auditor Davis urges 'no' vote on fee

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 10:30 a.m. - County Auditor William Davis, who filed a November lawsuit calling an $80 annual fee for property owners unconstitutional, has written an open letter urging property owners to vote no in an ongoing poll on the fee.  
Below is an excerpt from Davis' letter. 
Read the Thursday, April 10 MARIPOSA GAZETTE Opinion page for the letter's complete text.

"This assessment is unconstitutional. 

"One reason, among others, is that the California constitution requires that any special assessment placed on a property shall be in proportion to the benefit that the property receives. That is so everyone pays for their fair share of the benefit and does not shift the cost to other taxpayers. 

"The current assessment and the upcoming replacement are both for a flat $80 on each property assessed. The defense that the county has offered is that discounts can be given to some properties such that everyone pays the same amount. This clearly causes those receiving less benefit to pay for those receiving more benefit. The owners of a $25,000 cabin, a $100,000 trailer, a $300,000 house, and a $1,000,000 commercial property do not receive the same benefit from fire protection but they all pay the same amount. 

"So those with less valuable properties subsidize those with more valuable properties. That is just the kind of situation that the Prop. 218 proportionality requirement was intended to avoid."

William Davis

Mariposa County Auditor

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As a Midpines resident I was

As a Midpines resident I was use to seeing the Sierra Forest fire personnel in Midpines almost everyday. Since the new station was built I have never seen them. I believe these are US Government and paid for by the people. Where is the Forestry Department. They were there first many times.

Has anyone looked into what

Has anyone looked into what would happen if this is voted out? What will happen to the monies? Will the County have to refund all 'fees' paid to date? Would the new fire trucks be repossessed? Do you know what that would do to the financial status of this County? Look out bankruptcy, here we come! Whether the fee was implemented legally or not, I will vote yes if only to save the County from financial ruin. (The $80/yr will not cause MY financial ruin.)

I am not voting for this, it

I am not voting for this, it is a constant borage of taxes, vote for this there will be another next year. The county needs to go to the state and get some of the money we already pay with the states special tax. How many fire taxes should we pay, we pay our regular property taxes that should be it but no here comes the state with their tax which we receive nothing from and now the county wants to add another tax, like I said when does it stop, what tax will it be next year. Fire is the only institution for volunteers do so much of the work yet the county wants more taxes, I say County, Fire handle your money better.

Mr. Davis did you and your

Mr. Davis did you and your friends take the time to find out about the response to structure fires. You are basing you view on one thing the price of a structure. You are WRONG as is your little group. The response is the same for a 10,000.00 or 100,000.00, and in fact more equipment maybe needed on a 10,000.00 than 100,000.00 home. Mr. Davis and your friends can ask our fire department or cal fire ECC for this information. I have been on MCFD for 10 years this September and I have been on structure fires and the response was the same on all. I have seen extra equipment sent to these based on NEED and NOT ON SIZE OR PRICE of the structure. Also Mr. Davis you and your friends are complaining about 80.00 which is 0.219 cents per day or 6.66 per month to pay for the equipment that protects all residents of this country. Mr. Davis do you or your group VOLUNTEER in any way for your local fire company. The views I am expressing are mine and not those of any member of MCFD or any other government official.

Also, the fee is so that we

Also, the fee is so that we CAN respond in a reasonable response time. The old engines that were replaced were unreliable and unsafe on the road, and were getting extremely expensive to repair, if parts were even available.

Initial response is equal, no

Initial response is equal, no matter what size or value the structure. If more apparatus is needed, more is sent.

With respect to Mr Davis’

With respect to Mr Davis’ comment, “One reason, among others, is that the California constitution requires that any special assessment placed on a property shall be in proportion to the benefit that the property receives,” I have to call him a hypocrite for totally ignoring the State of California's far more heinous “fee” which was NOT voted on by those assessed as was our local fire fee. To fund Cal Fire, we land owners are assessed $150 ($115 if we have local fire protection service) without regard to the size of our parcel, value of our “habitable structure” or whether we’ve ever been threatened by fire. In addition, the US government owns almost 46 MILLION acres and isn’t charged a penny despite the fact that the bulk of land threatened and consumed by fire in our state is federal land, not private. If to be legal under our state constitution, a “fee” has to be “in proportion to the benefit that the property receives,” then the state law is an obscene violation that dwarfs our local fee. So where is Mr Davis' lawsuit against the State of California?

I don't believe that the fire

I don't believe that the fire department discriminates against a person that lives in a single wide mobile home or in a Large house in the hills. A structure fire response sends the same amount of engines and staffing to each type of home. Thus, equal amounts for the fee. That was the reasoning behind the fee being equal to all. I also believe that there are very few commercial structures in the county, with the exception of those inside the town of Mariposa (which has it's own fire department and is not part if this fee). I have voted for this fee in both elections.

The standard response for ANY

The standard response for ANY structure fire is two county engines, one CalFire engine and one water tender. Whether the structure is a deck, a pump house, or a full size house/mobile home, it gets the same response. If, upon scene, the initial size up determines more apparatus is needed, more is sent. The cost to respond or to bring in more equipment is no higher on a bigger structure than it is on a smaller one. Firefighters get paid the same whether they are on a fire or at their station. In the case of county volunteer firefighters, it is nothing, and we gladly come at any hour to fight your fires. No one is having to pay more or less for fire protection since the initial response is equal no matter the size of the structure.

I agree with Mr. Davis' on

I agree with Mr. Davis' on the idea that the fee is not in proportion to the benefit received. What I pay is equal to what a trailer park pays? Or to what a business pays? Or to what the owner of a much more expensive home pays? However, I need to consider the over all benefit of voting yes, so I did vote yes. In the future, I won't be voting in favor of such fees unless it is truly in proportion, I hope the county considers that need should the need arise in the future.

Wish I had known that before

Wish I had known that before I voted... should have looked into it.... Being relatively new to the area I thought it had been a public vote some years ago and we were doing a redo because of some mistake in language, oh well...

But in essence it is the same

But in essence it is the same benefit. It is the same fire stations, the same firemen and the same equipment. Just because my property is only worth x doesn't mean I don't want to have the same protections as the people who's property is worth xx. This is one fee I have the most faith in paying. I know that it not only helps protect my home by homes throughout the community.

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