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Tuolumne County Considering Development And Parcel Fees To Fund Fire Protection

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Sonora, CA — Facing a short and long term deficit to fund fire protection, the Tuolumne County Supervisors will discuss new ways to increase revenue.

We reported in June that the county is facing financial challenges when it comes to fire protection due to things like increasing service costs and a decline in volunteer members. So, the county is looking to restructure how it provides services.

At Tuesday’s meeting the board will give staff direction, during a brainstorming session, on various ways to increase revenue.

For example, staff is recommending the implementation of a development impact fee to offset the cost of providing fire services to future homes and businesses. A similar fee was recently implemented in parts of Calaveras County. Using the Calaveras fee structure as an example, Tuolumne County estimates that it would have brought $189,236 in 2018 based on the 65 single family homes built, 18 mobile homes and five commercial structures.

Other revenue options to be discussed include a business license fee and correlating required annual fire code, and life-safety inspection, per business license. There will also be talk about a false fire alarm fee, first responder fee, a fee to respond to residential care facilities, and a fee attached to a visitor’s hotel and RV reservations. Related to the latter, the county estimates there are 900 hotel rooms, and an average occupancy rate of 60-percent, would bring in $197,000 per year if there is a $1 public safety fee. If the fee is increased to $5, it could bring $985,000 annually.

Another option to be discussed is a fire parcel tax, which would require a 2/3 vote of the public, and could range anywhere from $75-130 per parcel, annually.

The various options will be reviewed at Tuesday’s meeting which starts at 9am in the board meeting room.