This funding measure is being proposed to provide our citizens the opportunity to vote on a secure, reliable and predictable source of revenue specifically for fire and emergency response services in Tuolumne County. Fire departments throughout the county have been meeting for years to identify ways to most efficiently and effectively provide consistent and reliable fire services to all areas of the county. The lack of funding adequate to cover basic fire department expenses including personnel and equipment replacement is a common concern of the fire departments who formed the Tuolumne County Fire Authority. The Fire Chief for the County Fire Department presented to the Board of Supervisors in July 2020 an overview report regarding how dire the fire funding situation has become countywide. Measure V is intended to address these deficiencies and provide funding for staffing, operating and equipment replacement to secure the viability of fire services now and in the future.
Departments have for many years been financially challenged due to the dispersed, remote populations we serve, increasing fire fuel loads, increasing drought and weather-related fire incidents, aging fire engine fleet, reduced availability of volunteer firefighters, increasing cost of equipment, personnel, fuel and insurance. The state has continuously increased regulations and laws affecting fire services which has resulted in increased costs. At the same time, the revenue available to these departments has been nearly flat due to economic downturns, property tax limitations and even reduced revenue when the state shifted property taxes away from fire departments.