Measure H can help ensure rapid fire response

The cost of fire service has risen steeply in the 10 years since the town’s first Measure H passed — providing $300,000 in annual revenue for the Colma Fire Protection District — so fire officials are turning once again to the voters for more.

Measure H, if approved by two-thirds of the voters, would increase a property tax levied on Colma and Broadmoor Village homeowners from $50 to $150 annually. The boost would provide an additional $280,000, providing a total of $580,000 in annual revenue. Businesses would also be required to pay 13 cents per square foot of business size annually, as opposed to 12 cents, for the tax.

Response times have been good, remaining at the target four minutes on average, fire Chief Geoffrey Balton said. The additional funds would ensure that the response time stays at that level or better, he said.

Things have fallen by the wayside since the department, 36 strong, has been operating under a deficit. All employees are technically volunteers — and get paid $13 to $18 per hour each time they respond to a call — but receive medical benefits and workers compensation coverage. The department sees an average of 700 calls per year, Balton said.

Balton said the single station, located at 50 Reiner St., is more than enough, but he would like to see services expanded within their current facilities. Programs and operations, not necessarily facilities, are the focus, he said.

There is no organized opposition to the measure, in either Colma or Broadmoor Village. The Town Council, at its meeting this week, approved a resolution in support of Measure H. Taxes are collected from the same group of property owners, but there are no general fund revenues dedicated to the fire department, Balton said.

Broadmoor residents, including Ralph Hutchens, vice president of the Broadmoor Property Owners Association, have publicly supported the tax boost in the interest of continuing fire and medical services.

tramroop@examiner.com

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