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Marin Wild Fire Preparedness Tax Measure Initial Term Should Not Exceed 10 Years

CO$T Won't Support More than 10 Years Initial Term for County Wild Fire Preparedness Tax. Additional Concerns include Lack of JPA Project List and Clarity re Citizen Oversight Committee.

CO$T supports the idea of coordinated county-wide wild fire prevention. But we're concerned that the initial term of the enabling tax is FOREVER.

Without a periodic renewal measure on the ballot, taxpayer-voters will have no further opportunity to weigh in on whether the perpetual tax with annual escalators is still needed and being spent wisely.

CO$T submitted and read into the record the following memo on September 24, 2020 to the Marin County Board of Supervisors:

To: Marin County Board of Supervisors, County Administrator, and County Fire Chief

From: The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers

Date: September 24, 2019

RE: Wildfire JPA Tax Measure Initial Term Must Not Exceed Ten Years; Additional Concerns include Lack of Project List and Clarity re Citizen Oversight Committee

The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers believes in the need for a county-wide approach to wildfire protection and in theory supports funding that via a county-wide tax tied to square footage of improved property.

However, CO$T will not support funding a novel, untested, Joint Powers Authority (JPA) with a tax whose initial term exceeds ten years.

CO$T is recognized for its sensible, disciplined approach to weighing need for funding against the appropriateness of the funding mechanism. We have widely publicized our Sensible Tax Criteria. One of our key criteria is:

“Every tax should have a sunset date — and one that is tied to the projects it funds. For most sales and parcel taxes, 8-10 years is a reasonable maximum term; voters then have the opportunity to renew, cancel, or amend these taxes (which can be especially important if the tax/fee or what it funds is novel).”

The proposed JPA is indeed novel. No one can fully anticipate all the possibilities of what can go right or wrong. As such, it is imperative that taxpayers have an opportunity to weigh in via a renewal measure within the next decade. That democratic event provides an essential check and reset opportunity that will keep the county-wide initiative performing optimally over the long-term.

CO$T also urges that the JPA resolution address these additional concerns:

The above are the initial concerns we have regarding the Marin County wildfire JPA and tax measure. Foremost among those is the requirement for a ten-year sunset.Additional concerns and comments from us may arise as more details emerge.

CO$T will continue to work with all parties toward what we hope will be a successful county-wide wildfire protection plan.


COST, Marin County, Tax, Wildfire, Fire Preparedness