TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT GETS FIRE TAX RECOMMENDATION OF ADDITONAL $60 A YEAR

TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT GETS FIRE TAX RECOMMENDATION OF ADDITONAL $60 A YEAR

The Twentynine Palms Water Board got the results of a half-year of deliberations on the funding of the fire department by a Citizens’ Committee, and decided to consider whether to act on them three months from now. Or maybe nine months from now. Dan Stork was there, and summarizes the discussions…
The Twentynine Palms Water District Board of Directors received the recommendations of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on funding the fire department. Director Chancey Chambers observed that the suggested ballot measure–which calls for an per-parcel increase from the current $80 to $140 per year, phased-in over three years, followed by a discretionary annual increase of at most 3 percent per year, and would support the re-opening of the Lear station—is not substantially different from the measure rejected by the voters last year. There was general agreement that a different outcome would require intensive public education and campaigning. Chief Jim Thompson advised that the Board would have to act by February in order to get the measure on the ballot with the June 2014 gubernatorial primary choices, or by July to make the November 2014 general election ballot. During the water district portion of the meeting, General Manager Tamara Alaniz had presented preliminary information indicating that mail-only elections are not cheaper than polling place elections and don’t lead to significantly better turnout (which is somewhat surprising), and that elections in November of even-numbered years get substantially better turnout (no surprise there). Thompson noted that the current level of service–with the Lear station closed–can be maintained with a balanced budget for the current and next fiscal years. The prevailing opinion was to wait until January before taking the issue up, to allow time to gather community feedback, and that a November presentation to the voters would be preferred to one in June. The Board voted to disband the Committee now, so that its members will be free to act as individuals to promote their recommendations in the community, without running afoul of Brown Act constraints.

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