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Published September 21st, 2016
ConFire Chief Proposes Additional Revenue Sources

The The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District board of directors authorized Fire Chief Jeff Carman to contract with Willdan Financial Services to perform an impact fee study, which will include the possibility of forming community facilities districts in areas of new development within the district. In 2005, Lafayette declined to support a Willdan-proposed impact fee program that would have levied a one-time fee on the development of residential and commercial properties in the city.
"Adding additional burden to an already burdened fire system doesn't work," Carman told his board Sept. 13. "Countywide the fire service is experiencing difficulty providing adequate levels of emergency services with the existing revenues we see from property taxes."
When Carman was hired in 2013, he promised the board that he would seek additional revenue streams for the district. A parcel tax is one way to provide additional district revenue, but the last ConFire parcel tax measure failed at the ballot box in 2012. Instead, the chief proposed to update development impact fees and to establish one or more CFDs.
Revenue provided by an impact fee or from a CFD will be used to supplement ConFire services to add capacity within new developments. Examples of adding capacity include purchasing new equipment and apparatus, replacing equipment more frequently and increasing staffing. Typically, costs from an impact fee are added onto the price of new housing while CFD fees are charged annually.
Board Chair Candace Andersen cautioned the chief on the pragmatic issues in dealing with the boundary lines of a CFD. "You don't want to have to screech the fire truck when you get to the next block," she said, because the next block may not reside in the CFD, whose residents pay for enhanced fire service.
Carman proposed the supplemental revenue idea at a recent city managers' meeting. "Our goal is to work with all of the managers on what the program will look like and to give them a chance for input," he said. The chief indicated that Lafayette will be one of the final cities that he approaches on the supplemental revenue topic because the city has little new development on the books. City Manager Steve Falk declined to comment on the possibility of ConFire supplemental development fees in Lafayette.
ConFire collects impact fees on new construction and development only within the unincorporated areas of the district, the city of Pittsburg and the city of Antioch. No CFDs exist in the Moraga-Orinda Fire District but the district does collect impact fees on new development.
"For us to not ask for additional revenue on new development is ludicrous," Carman said.

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