DAYTON - Central Lyon fire officials say then need a 20-cent tax hike to meet the future needs of Dayton corridor residents.
Residents will have an opportunity to decide whether fire services are worth the 66-percent increase on the November ballot.
The Central Lyon County Fire District Board last week voted to place a tax initiative on the November ballot. The new assessment would add approximately $560,000 per year to the district budget.
Fire Board member Chuck Ayres said the board wanted to cover the district's long-term needs and not use a band-aid approach.
"This is long overdue," Ayres said. "As a district, we are having trouble keeping up with our calls. We are spread way too thin during the daytime hours. We may find in a few years we don't need this much. Other funding sources may become available. We could then consider lowering the tax rate."
Ayres said 14 emergency calls were received in one recent 24-hour period.
"Traffic accidents are increasing along the Highway 50 corridor. Our responders are becoming overwhelmed. We need the public to tell us what level of service they expect."
The five-year plan would add 22 paid personnel, including: increasing the current two-person teams at the east and west ends of the district to four-person engine companies; increasing the administrative structure; and, increasing fire prevention and administrative support personnel.
Proposed facility changes include: relocating the Silver Springs Fire Station and building a facility capable of accommodating career staff and volunteers; building a satellite station to the south of Silver Springs; construction of a new district office in front of existing Sutro Station; and, relocating the dormitory door at Sutro Station. At least two additional ambulances and a Type II Interface Engine would be added.
Dayton resident Ed Harris is adamantly against the tax increase.
"I won't vote for it. I don't understand their line of reasoning at all. I would think if you get more people, the cost per taxpayer would go down," Harris said Friday. "It's a good thing they don't run General Motors."
Johnye Saylor, also a Dayton resident, is in favor of whatever is necessary to provide proper emergency protection to local residents.
"I feel fire and emergency protection is very important. If you are a victim, the 20 cents is meaningless. And we are all potential victims," she said. "If 20 cents is really what we need, I will support it."
According to District Chief Bill Driscoll board members simply want to improve district services to the level the people want.
"The Board of Directors is encouraging everyone to get involved in the process. They need the public's input," Driscoll said.
Residents of the 640 square mile coverage area currently pay 30 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of their real property to support the district's seven volunteer stations, the new Sutro Station administrative/EMT housing complex and 10 paid employees.
The last tax hike was implemented July 1, 1995. That seven-cent increase allowed the hiring of four EMT/Firefighters.
Required additional personnel under the new proposal:
1 assistant chief
2 batallion chiefs
3 shift captains
6 firefighter paramedics
6 firefighter EMTs
2 training instructors
1 administrative clerk.