OROVILLE, Calif. - Voters in South Oroville will be deciding Measure D on November 3rd. It is a property tax to boost funding for the El Medio Fire Department. For single-family homeowners, it means an increase of $60 per year in property tax.
El Medio is a small fire station that serves about 6,000 people in an area of approximately two-square miles in South Oroville. For those people, it means a much quicker response time in the event of a medical or fire emergency, but the tiny department is perpetually operating on a shoestring budget.
Action News Now spoke to one member of the El Medio Board of Directors who said revenue simply does not keep up with the department’s increasing expenses and the fire station is likely in jeopardy if Measure D fails to pass next month.
"It's just a measure to cover payroll,” said board member Virginia Brazil Barnes. “It covers the expense of the vehicles, station, everything that goes with it. PG&E, gas, insurance, workers compensation insurance, our insurance premiums, and dispatch from the city. Those things take a big chunk."
The firefighters barely make above minimum wage at El Medio. Yet one homeowners pointed out to Action News Now the fact that people in that community are already paying for Measure B which passed in 2008. It also was a $60 dollar per year tax, that's grown to $73.10 because it's allowed to increase 3 percent each year. That's in addition to a 1980 voter-approved $60 tax that is also still in place.
So home-owners, on average, are right now paying $133.10 per year for El Medio. If Measure D passes it would add $60 dollars to that amount and would also be subject to a 3 percent annual increase. Measure D requires a two-thirds majority to pass.