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February 21, 2019
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Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open

By: Irene Hilsendager
September 28, 2018

The Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District is committed to protecting lives and property through emergency response, preparedness, community education and fire prevention, so reflects the mission statement of the Rancho Adobe District. If several of the fire stations would get closed due to shortage of funds, would you be willing to pay extra to receive the protection?

With 89 square miles, 28,000 residents, 9,500 students at SSU and 3,200 live right on campus, with fire stations located in Cotati, Penngrove and Liberty Valley, does this sound even close to feeling safe? 

We as residents of this area must prevent station closures and keep and add quality firefighters, add a paramedic ambulance and try to increase the volunteer base. 

The district is facing a major budget shortfall with the potential loss of $300,000 from the Graton Casino revenue in the last two years. With the 

possibility of station closures, response time for each engine can double. How many lives could be lost with that facing us? Engineers and captain are paid nearly a 22 percent less salary than most neighboring departments and part-time firefighters only getting paid a minimum wage with no benefits. The department is losing staff to larger agencies because of wages and having an increased demand on public safety with more people and more housing due to the growth in Cotati and Rohnert Park. Maintenance has been long overdue and in the near future, equipment will have to be replaced.

The Rancho Adobe Fire District is facing a severe financial crisis that could lead to harsh measures, including closing stations and saying off personnel.

The district said they must explore sharing services with neighboring districts and departments and which districts could we share with and work to ensure that the Graton Casino mitigation funds will continue for another five-years. Therefore, should Sonoma State University start be paying for services that has been enjoyed at no cost? Should the Green Music Center also pay its fair share for services? Will Measure W solve our problems? How much should be requested to remain solvent? 

The proposed ballot initiative for Nov, 2018 is asking for long overdue upgrade to the parcel tax. With $150 SRA tax being repealed would the chances be more favorable? Should we consider charges for all medical calls whether a district resident or not and if the measure doesn’t pass can we pass a tax measure? To provide uninterrupted service, the Committee to Save RAFPD will ask voters to approve raising the parcel tax to a sustainable level with an adjustment for inflation. The RAFPD needs funds to support this campaign and volunteers to communicate the value Rancho Adobe provides. Initiatives like Measure W calls for a 2/3 approval vote required. 

When Rancho Adobe was formed in 1993, they responded to nearly 1,000 emergency calls for Cotati, Penngrove and Liberty Valley and far beyond. Last year they responded to 2,570 calls including firestorm emergencies, saving lives and property. They now face financial challenges that will make it necessary to think about lay-offs and closing stations. The only answer is a ballot initiative that will ensure the protection you deserve for years to come. To pass this measure, the committee to Save RAFPD needs your help more than ever.

Did you ever sit down to figure out how much it costs to equip a Rancho Adobe Firefighter? The jacket is over $1,300, the pants are over $900, the radio is nearly $5,000 and the air pack is over $6,000; these are just a few of the ten items needed. 

On your Nov. 6 ballot, you will see this question. shall Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District Ordinance No. 2018-02 be approved authorizing the district to repeal the existing parcel tax and impose and levy a special tax for an indefinite period at an annual rate of $300 per assessor’s parcel number ($0.82 per) providing $2.1 million annually, with a maximum 3 percent adjustment for inflation with an annual audit demonstrating how all revenue was spent? Vote yes to save your fire protection district.

There will be an event at the Twin Oaks Roadhouse Sept. 29 with live music by Los Gu’achis, songs of the Southwest, terrific good food served by the firefighters, a silent auction and much more. The event will be from 5-8 p.m.  Small and large banners on Measure W will be appearing in the community this weekend.