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10 February 2012


Todd Juvinall

County property taxes paid in 1992 were 59 million, population 90,000 or so. 2011, 206 million, population 100,000. Population increased by 10%, property taxes by 300% or more. What the heck?

Douglas Keachie

What are the increases for Fire, Todd? CARB mandated the new fire engines. Newer technologies for fire suppression and emergency medical response have come on-line.

Ben Emery

"But then, it occurred to me that we are not in a business-as-usual recession. I believe we may be in the beginning stages of something much more long term and worse."

We are in a depression. This depression was created by 30 years of reduction tax policies for the wealthy/ corporations and trade policies that has led to over 50,000 factories leaving the US in the last decade alone. These jobs were decent waged manufacturing jobs leaving the nation, which leads to private debt to maintain same consumer lifestyle. It also was created by speculation and unregulated reckless banking practices along with those risks being socialized by a government that is owned by big business, especially big financial institutions. It is called corporatism or fascism.


Not to minimize the straits of our Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, but how much of their financial problems, besides the absolute waste forced by CARB rules requiring new engines, was due to growth to meet available revenues? How much of their problems are wage and pension growth in excess of inflation and the number of properties served?

I am not predisposed to vote NO, but it might be instructive to see the budgets graphed back to 1992, not just back to the 2005. How did the district manage the growth?



Our house voted no.

Account Deleted

This is something I saw coming a mile away. As this nation prospered, we had fun giving a blank check to the govt to take care of us. What were a lot of our emergency and fire engines in the 50's? A bunch of WWII and Korean War surplus. The fire crews fitted them out with what they had. If you spilled gasoline or diesel, everyone shrugged. If you rolled your car and the top was caved in, you bled to death while they sawed the roof off. And on and on. New tech brought new toys. We always said "sure, blank check - just save our little Suzie and Bobby". A lot of it is great stuff. A lot of it is nothing more than throwing away perfectly good stuff to meet new mandates by folks that don't see the connection with reality. We live in times now where the reality of competition for wages is world wide and there are plenty of folks willing (and able) to work for less than you. But the govt just keeps on rolling with an attitude that has no concept of the new reality. I'm always amused with the govt saying their costs have gone up several times the official inflation rate. Some one is lying. Big Time. I have to live with the same exact inflation that the govt does. But, unlike the govt, I have always balanced my check book. My taxes haven't gone down. In fact, they're going up. My income is going down. I don't have fire insurance. I've never seen a govt emergency vehicle on my road ever. This county loves to rail about fire safety and having good access. We had the county road engineers out on our road and they pointedly refused to improve our road because they would have to cut down trees. The trees are more important to the county than the taxpayers. They can suck their new taxes out of those trees. There are places on our road that only allow one vehicle to pass. The fire dept doesn't give a s**t, but I'm supposed to give them more money. The fire dept loves to go on and on about how the private developer or citizen better just make damn sure their drive ways are up to code or "FIREMEN WILL DIE". County roads? Shrug. This tax increase will pass and then they'll want more and more. When does it end? Sorry - you hit a raw nerve with me.

Account Deleted

Oh yeah - have a nice day!

Michael Anderson

I will be extremely surprised if this tax passes. The hurdle of 67% is very high, given the political demographic of this county. I predict it will fail.

That being said, is it a worthy initiative? I think your points are explicated very well...if you live in Nevada County you better be self-sufficient and not dependent on the goodwill of gov't or strangers.

George's argument is that it is penny-wise and pound-foolish to vote against this tax, due to the obvious insurance consequences which will be much more costly. His is a sound argument on the face, however inconsistent with his political leanings.

But there is nuance. For example, people living in the Rattlesnake outback, or the brushpiles on Banner Mtn., will cost the community more to protect than those who live in less wooded areas. If we are to advocate personal responsibility, why subsidize those who made bad housing choices? I live close to town, have an NID hydrant less than 1000 ft. from my house, and have huge clearance because I chose to live in a relatively treeless area.

Nonetheless, I voted in favor of the tax.

Rhetorically yours,

Michael A.

Account Deleted

We pay for NID, but we will never see a drop of NID water. When NID ran the water line down our road, they stopped at the end of the pavement. Ditto for cable. Look, I know we live in the woods, but why do we have to pay full freight for everything and then get denied improvements? Our family has been subsidizing the folks that get all of the improvements and all we get is the bill. The state "fire fee" is next. Do the good Dems in the Oakland Hills pay anything? Of course not. Did Cal Fire run to their rescue when they had a forest fire? You know it. How about the libs in the canyons in Malibu and Laguna? No fee for them, but Cal Fire will fly to their next fire. It's going to get worse and worse.

Todd Juvinall

Scott, my property was always on and charged for a 1/2 miners inch from the ditch. I did not know until a few years ago you could opt out of the deal with NID raw water and when I found out I certainly opted out. I paid 8 bucks a month for many years and never used the water. I don't think it is common knowledge. I felt real dumb paying for nothing all those years. It was not on my property taxes though like the fire is and that may be different.

George Rebane

ScottO 1038pm - You make good points. All of these government moves make sense when viewed in light of the desire to herd humanity into tight corridors of living space and commerce. Dispersed people are hard to control and get bad ideas. Compact ghettos work much better.

Douglas Keachie

"Do the good Dems in the Oakland Hills pay anything? "

Made me laugh, Todd. I once worked for a veep of Standard Oil as a nanny for his four kids, who lived right in the heart of the Oakland Hills. Anything east of Tunnel Road, 580, was most likely Republican. Only exception might have beem Dave Brubeck, of Take Five fame, who lived in a marvelously experimental house on a 50 x 100 foot lot.



Brad Croul

Voting no on fee increases is the easy way out. You get to brag about how you are sticking to your conservative principles while enjoying the comforts of the services in the event that the ballot measure passes. As an added benefit you can blame the passage of the ballot measure on your damn liberal neighbors!

Those who live the furthest away from community services should expect to pay the most, not the least, and not expect others to pay for their choice to live in the sticks. As a city dweller, I do not want to pay for rural road maintenance or emergency services. I assume the fee being discussed will not be collected on properties within city limits served by their own fire departments.

From what I have seen of fire fight videos in rural areas, a disproportionate amount of effort is required to save country homes since, many times, an entire hillside has to be battled to save some skyliner’s house on the ridge when they otherwise could have let the hill burn out naturally.

Maybe the county could add a layer to their GIS database indicating those who pay for emergency services and those that do not want to pay their fair share and want to “opt out”. When the fire comes, the firefighters would drive down the road and comply with the “do not resuscitate” options chosen by those who vote against paying for those fees.

Or, just privatize all emergency and other services. One would subscribe to emergency services just like one does for satellite TV. That way the guy who doesn’t want or cannot afford emergency services does not get fire protection from the service provider in the event of a fire or other emergency.

To really pay “full freight” for fire protection, water delivery, etc. you would be paying way more, at least in the short term, than the periodic fees that government asks you pay for essential services.

Tally up the cost to drill your own water well, power your site by generator or solar, buy firefighting equipment, create water storage, fireproof your house, clear your land for fire breaks, etc. and see how it compares to the amount in fees the county charges.

George Rebane

BradC 1251pm - I gather from your comprehensive comment that we are not paying "full freight for fire protection". Do you have some thoughts then on who might be making up the difference?

Brad Croul

I am saying that, when compared to the cost of all the manpower and development necessary to make yourself completely self sufficient in terms of fighting any and all fires on your property, the periodic fees charged by the county to fight the fires for you seem reasonable, at least in the near term.

I acknowledge that some people already have done much of the above.

The, survival of the fittest, free marketeers would probably say just let the fire departments reduce services. Those who created defensible spaces, water reservoirs, backup power for pumps, sprinklered the interiors, sided their structures with non-flammable materials and fireproofed their eaves, soffit, ridge, and other openings to the exterior, etc. would be rewarded for their efforts while others who did not bother with such defensive measures might find their houses torched.

Douglas Keachie

We fought earthquake by the best means possible, we moved up here from San Francisco. Why should we pay for emergency services in the event of an earthquake? What if an epidemic hits? Who pays for that? When it comes to fighting fires up here, you are to a certain extent dependent on your neighbors, to clean up their acts. BLM on one border will just let whatever grows, grow, until a fire does clean it out. Three pot growers are not doing anything. One recluse is completely surrounded by tall trees, he does keep the brush down. Next guy lives in Moss Landing, does nothing, after him comes, "it's just the back two acres of my land that adjoin your land, who cares?" And finally my "growing a complete forest, check back in 40 years, mind your own business," neighbor, who also clears nothing. Only waywe can save ourselves is all the stuff Brad listed, and, visible from the air, a bunch of 4 foot by 8 foot panels, on which is a long arrow, and the word "Home" pointed at our house, which is now only mildly shaded, after $9,000 worth of tree clearing.

Account Deleted

re: Brad's posts - Yes, I do stick to my principles, even when it might cost me. You might try it it sometime. This is an election to decide if we will have to pay more for what we already have. I will think that those who voted for the increase are folks who voted for the increase. Their political ideas or personal grooming or income or physical stature have nothing to do with it. I'm sorry that the fire fighters have to spend an inordinate effort to save the homes in the wild fire area. I think they might be trying to stop the fire from burning up the woods as well. I've talked to local firemen and they privately admit that a home that has a better chance if the owner has cleared the area of fuel, gets a better chance of survival. A home surrounded by trees and brush is written off and the efforts are made to save what is realistic. I love the effort to make it look like the folks in the woods are free-loaders. Road maintenance? You have to be kidding. We were willing to pay for the pavement and that would have saved the county plenty in the long run. We pay for our own power, sewer and water, completely. We travel farther and pay more gas taxes than the average city dweller. We have paid NID and fire fees for decades and have never needed or gotten anything from them. The fire fees are insurance and the rates are going up. Survival of the fittest would be those born with an ability to outrun the fire because of their physical stature that they were born with. Those that expend the energy and time and money to fire safe their home are called prudent and smart. There is no talk here of wanting to reduce fire services. The Oakland Hills are represented by Dems. As are the Malibu Hills, et al. They expect Cal Fire to fly to their rescue but won't pay the new fire fee. The areas represented by mostly R's will. That's all there is to it. It's going to get worse.

Douglas Keachie

Todd and Scott are correct. At least these days, zips 94705 and 94611 donations to Dems out value donations to Dems by at least 9:1. Way back when I'm not so sure.


I would simply like to see some fat cut before FORCING a FOREVER tax down our throats.
My wishlist, I wish:

I could opt-out of the insane taxes collected for fire protection (like Todd did NID).

I could retire at age 50 with free health care for life.

I could retire at age 50 with a big fat pension for life.

Taxpayers bought me a $70k truck to use as my personal vehicle...

And we wonder why they need more money? Greece = foreshadowing the inevitability of collectivism.

George Rebane

THEMIKEYMCD 852am - I think it's a matter of assessing the risk of your fire insurance premium going up at $X/yr (at probability P1) and/or your insurance company pulling out of Nevada County (at probability P2).

Your and ScottO's points are well taken. Government does nickle and dime us during critical decision junctures when they know that we pay attention, and will acknowledge that our opposing the entire program of government expense/waste on the back of 'one little issue' is not worth it. But that means that we should be making our noises about fiscal prudence during times when there is no such issue pending. And no one does that, since then there is no pocketbook urgency. A hard problem for taxpayers who pay attention only occasionally.


With all due respect insurance companies do not underwrite an area based on taxes collected or propaganda spewed by fire chiefs. Our homes are underwritten based on the value at risk (replacement value) and the probability of loss. I do not believe that an additional tax (as proposed) would do anything to increase the replacement value OR materially affect the probability of loss.

I wonder if opting out of fire protection would even change premiums? If the fire itself doesn't destroy the home, the water damage will.

Game time: next time you drive around town count the # of $60k+ tax payer purchased pickup trucks (with firehouse decals). Fringe benefits without any value to taxpayer.

George Rebane | 14 February 2012 at 10:42 AM

George Rebane

THEMIKEYMCD 902am - Don't recall anyone claiming that insurance companies underwrite on the basis of collected taxes or propaganda. But they are underwritten, as you state, on expected dollar losses and the ability for the market to support appropriate premium levels to service such losses while providing a profit. Arguably, the expected losses will go up as the level of fire fighting ability goes down.

The issue here is the likelihood that insurance companies, already looking at Nevada County as a marginal market, will see the stated reductions as the tipping point to profitability. Your belief that such reductions will NOT "materially affect the probability of loss" will guide your vote. To influence other votes, it would be good to hear the basis of your probability assessment.


"Game time: next time you drive around town count the # of $60k+ tax payer purchased pickup trucks (with firehouse decals). Fringe benefits without any value to taxpayer. "
~ THEMIKEYMCD | 17 February 2012 at 09:02 AM"

None whatsoever, except that maybe having our volunteers and paid folks be able to drive DIRECT to a FIRE, instead of having to drive to the firehouse, to meet up and all come on the big truck to sift through your ashes, by the time they get there.

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