By Bob Cederdahl
May 28, 2009 (La Mesa)--I believe it is in the community's best interest to vote NO on the Benefit Assessment District proposed by the San Miguel Fire District. It is unreasonable. Here’s why:
1) The San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District's Board may be controlled by the fire fighter's union. I believe that the Board's view does not properly represent the views of the citizens of Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego, Mt. Helix, El Cajon & surrounding area. We have little to NO power as time after time, firefighters or their representatives are elected. They now have a SUPER majority on the Board. This is unreasonable.
2) 2 years ago the District increased our tax burden with a business fire inspection fee. Tens of thousands of dollars have been removed from our business community and we have lost many businesses, homes, and jobs. Our very way of life is threatened. We just can’t afford more, yet labor has not taken a direct pay cut. This is unreasonable.
3) However, they want more money from us ($1.3 million & even more) through a Benefit Assessment District. This is a BAD idea and is merely a way of getting around California’s Prop 13. This is unreasonable.
4) I deeply appreciate our fire fighters. But they are well paid already and DO have the means to help the community as we struggle to survive. When you add salaries, benefits & overtime, each employee (about 98) receives an average of $161,000 per year! The math is in: The $1,581,747 the district claims it needs to man Truck Co. 15 would pay the salaries of 7-1/2 U. S. Supreme Court justices (including the chief justice). Surely, this is unreasonable. If they just take a temporary pay cut or pay ½ of their own benefits, there would be no need for this new tax. As you may know, the city of San Diego FF's union took a 6% cut. So can San Miguel. In addition, when you add Director's benefits and wages, each of the Directors receive over $20,000 per year for just a few hours work each month. Some may even be double-dipping. This is unreasonable. They, too, can take a cut to help us through these troubling economic times.
5) This is a NEW tax and is in addition to property taxes you already pay. It will appear on your tax bill & grow EVERY year FOREVER. This is unreasonable.
6) The amount each property owner pays depends on property owned ranging from about $42 to hundreds of dollars. I do not yet know the top amount. Even schools & water districts will pay this tax! This is unreasonable.
7) They will NOT ask voters to vote as this method requires a two-thirds majority. The District knows it will not pass with two-thirds, so they are asking all property owners via a MAILED BALLOT. This method only requires 50% + 1 vote to pass of the ballots that are received. This is unreasonable
8) Votes will be weighted depending on how much property you own. A large property owner's vote will be equal to several single family homes. So, if your agree with me, be certain to mail your ballot in.
9) There is a built-in escalator clause with NO top end & WILL grow year after year. This is unreasonable.
10) There is NO sunset clause. This is a FOREVER tax. Even when the economy improves, we will STILL have this new tax. This is unreasonable.
11) The District has hired a consultant firm (www.sci-cg.com). They will control how ballots go out, how & by whom ballots are counted. I have NOT been assured these results will be accurate or audited by a neutral third party. This is unreasonable.
12) The District cannot by law spend their own funds to support this tax but they don't have to because it is now on record: The fire chief asked the union to be sure to man the phone banks. As they have done in the past, this is likely to include spending BIG union bucks to assure they win. Please don’t fall for their usual scare tactics. Please vote NO on this new tax