Fire FAQ – March 31, 2021
What is Measure V?
Measure V is a special tax measure being submitted to the voters in an all-mail ballot scheduled for June 8, 2021. The tax will be applied to every parcel of real property and will go exclusively to local fire departments for fire services. The ballots and voter information will be mailed during the week of May 8, 2021, to all registered voters within the boundaries of the Tuolumne County Fire Authority. To be counted, ballots must be returned by June 8, 2021. If approved by the voters, the tax will generate approximately $4,183,950 to specifically fund fire protection, suppression, and emergency response services. This funding will be distributed as shown below directly to the Tuolumne County Fire Department, Sonora City Fire Department, Groveland Fire Department, Jamestown, Columbia and Tuolumne Fire Districts, based on the number of properties served by each.
Total # of Parcels
City of Sonora
Columbia Fire Protection District
County of Tuolumne
Groveland Community Services District
Jamestown Fire Protection District
Tuolumne Fire District
Why is Measure V being Proposed?
This measure is being proposed to provide citizens the opportunity to vote on a dedicated source of revenue specifically for fire services in Tuolumne County. Fire departments throughout the county have been meeting for years to identify ways to provide consistent and reliable fire services to all areas of the county. Measure V is intended to provide stable and dedicated funding for staffing, operations and equipment replacement now and in the future.
What is the Tuolumne County Fire Authority?
The Tuolumne County Fire Authority was formed to allow the member fire departments to join as a separate legal entity with the ability to levy a uniform and specific fire tax on parcels within its boundaries. The Fire Authority does not have separate staff and is not a new government agency that provides services on its own. Each fire department member of the Fire Authority maintains its own normally operating fire department with full autonomy in making decisions and setting its own service levels. The Fire Authority is most simply a legal means to seek voter approval to levy a separate special fire tax that secures funding only to be spent on fire services.
The Fire Authority is governed by a Board of Directors made up of one appointee and one alternate from each member fire department. As a voter, you elect the Board members who govern your local fire department, and one representative from each of the Boards sit on the Board of the Tuolumne County Fire Authority. The Fire Authority Board meetings are open to the public and the Authority must file annual reports on the amount of fire special tax levied, collected and spent. More information on the Tuolumne County Fire Authority is available here.
If approved, How Much Will Measure V Cost Me and How is it Collected?
If approved, the Tuolumne County Tax Collector will annually collect $75 for every unimproved parcel and $150 for every improved parcel within the boundaries of the Tuolumne County Fire Authority. The tax will be added to your property tax bill each year and distributed to each of the member departments based on the number of parcels in each department’s service boundary.
What will Measure V Pay For?
Measure V may be used by local fire departments for replacing aging fire engines and other equipment, firefighter safety and emergency response equipment such as “Jaws-of-Life”, and improved dispatch equipment. The individual fire departments will make their own decisions locally about how the fire special tax money will be spent in their normal budget process, based on their individual needs.
Can Measure V Money be Used for Other Services?
No. Measure V money is levied by the Fire Authority specifically and only to fund the member fire departments. This money belongs to the Fire Authority member departments as soon as it is received by the County Tax Collector and is paid to the departments throughout the year on an established schedule. The state or county have no legal access to these tax funds for any other purpose than fire services.
What Accountability Measures Are In Place For Measure V?
All meetings of the Tuolumne County Fire Authority and its member Fire Departments/Districts are open to the public, and all records, budgets, expenditures and actions of each is a public record available to the public, required by state law. An annual fire special tax report will be prepared and filed with each fire department, and made readily available to the public.
If this Measure Passes, When Will It Go into Effect And How Long Will It Be In Place?
Measure V will go into effect July 1, 2021, and be levied beginning on the 2021/22 tax rolls. The tax will remain in effect unless repealed by the registered voters of the Fire Authority in the county.
Where Can I Find More Information on Measure V?
More information on the Tuolumne County Fire Authority and Measure V can be found on the Authority website: https://www.gcsd.org/tuolumne-county-fire-authority .