Chester Fire’s Hail Mary Measure failed to pass during yesterday’s elections, leaving the department in a financial mess, at least for now.
Three hundred of over 460 votes cast were against Measure D, which aimed to levy a 350-dollar parcel tax to make up some of the costs to run the fire department. CPUD officials have said it takes roughly a couple million dollars to operate. This tax would have only secured around $525,000 annually, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars to make up.
With Measure D failing, the board has discussed a second shot at funding the department through a measure to appear on the March ballot. This could seek approval for a 1500 dollar per parcel levy, or the CPUD board has said they may be left with the decision to close Chester Fire’s doors.
This would strain the surrounding fire districts, who would take over the responsibility of the Chester area. Homeowners would also face increases in their insurance costs as the area’s ISO rating would likely spike.
The financial crisis has persisted for nearly a decade, with no clear oversight due to frequent turnover in leadership, including board members and GM changes over the years. According to Chester Fire’s financial statements, the district generates around $350,000 from tax revenue and $400,000 from ambulance services, resulting in a $1.2 million deficit.
Temporary measures have been used to address the issue, including borrowing over a million dollars from the sewer funds and one-time revenue from wildland fire funds. However, GM Adam Cox has expressed concern that these resources are running dry.
The CPUD board meets monthly and will convene again at the end of the month, with the fate of Chester Fire to be a likely focus.