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Fire board works toward special tax

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Murphys Fire Protection District Board of Directors will continue discussing a tax election.

The lone item on tomorrow's meeting agenda is a special fire district tax to help pay for coverage of the Murphys, Douglas Flat and Vallecito areas.

"Two things are under discussion," said interim Fire Chief Phil Phillips, "whether they will have an election for a special tax, and approving the resolution concerning the special tax."

Phillips said the resolution will establish what the tax is, its vote requirement, when the election will be held and — to some extent — uses for the money the tax will raise.

Board Chairman John Campbell said each board member received a copy of a draft resolution from the County Counsel's office yesterday morning, and when they meet tomorrow, they will discuss whether changes need to be made.

"I hope that we can approve it as it is or with only minor changes," Campbell said.

The proposed tax would be $75 on improved parcels of land and $25 on unimproved parcels in the district, but both Phillips and Campbell said that amount could change after tomorrow night's discussion.

The board has been working with Assistant County Counsel David Sirias to craft a resolution for a special election on the tax in June. If the board approves the resolution tomorrow night, it will take two-thirds approval by district voters for the measure to pass.

If passed, the special tax would bring in about $120,000, doubling the amount the district already collects from property tax, and easily covering the budget for the 50-square-mile district and allowing equipment upgrades and additional employees, Phillips said.

Last year, the district's budget was $154,000. The district's staff includes 28 volunteers and three paid employees: a full-time firefighter, a part-time chief and a secretary.

The district responded to 428 calls in 2002. Of those, 249 were medical calls.


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