Contrary to an inaccurate press release from the East County Voters group (ECV) and a misleading headline by the East Bay Times, the Oakley City Council has yet to take a position on a reallocation of property tax to help fund the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).
The City recognizes its role in staying engaged in conversations and evaluating proposals that could help improve the financial struggles of the ECCFPD; however, a property tax reallocation could have significant impacts on other public entities, especially to the local schools. For example, a reallocation proposal made by the ECV group would take over $5,000,000 from the local schools each year. The City Council would not vote on such a drastic measure without further conversations with the school districts and an open and fair discussion with the community about the impact of such a reallocation. Other public entities receiving property tax would have to also be involved.
Mayor Sue Higgins explains, “The City of Oakley is committed to being actively involved in discussions which explore improved funding and services for ECCFPD, however we have a responsibility to be prudent in our evaluation of all proposals. While we discussed the idea of reallocation, no action was taken. It is very hard to weigh such essential services like education provided by schools, to police services provided by cities, to fire services provided by the fire district against one another.”
At the work session held by the Oakley City Council on February 28th, the City Council agreed to send a letter to our state legislators, as a follow up to a letter sent late last year by ECCFPD, asking for the Legislature to consider proposals to assist ECCFPD. Assembly Member Jim Frazier has submitted a bill request that will be later defined. The City Council also asked City staff to extend an invitation to the Assembly Member and/or his staff to make a presentation to the Council, when the bill is ready for formal submission.
The City Council did not vote to support a property tax reallocation.