Fire department tax increase scrutinized
Supervisors want more information
The Los Angeles County Fire Department had hoped to get approval for a $1.22 increase in the annual tax that homeowners pay for fire services, but the Board of Supervisors demanded more information about the department’s fiscal woes before taking any action.
Supervisor Don Knabe grilled fire Chief Daryl Osby, expressing concern about the department’s operating deficit for the coming year.
“You’re asking for an increase,” Knabe said of the 2 percent bump. “It’s not one that should be taken lightly.” Osby said the department’s expenses were continuing to rise while revenues—which come primarily from property taxes—were just beginning to trend up after years in decline.
The department has two new fire station projects planned—in Malibu and Santa Clarita—that cannot be put off any longer, Osby said, adding the department has continued to hold off on millions of dollars more in infrastructure spending.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky supported the department’s request.
“The amount of money we’re talking about here to the average taxpayer is so insignificant compared to what they pay on their health insurance every month, every year,” Yaroslavsky said of the special fire assessment. “(It’s) five dollars a month to have a paramedic respond within three or four minutes . . . almost no matter where you live.”
The discussion served to highlight the department’s structural deficit, which predates Osby and has required spending down reserves to close an operating gap.
Ultimately, the board asked the fire chief to return with a more detailed report on the department’s financial standing and postponed a vote on the tax increase.
Should the United States Congress fail to enact legislation that will trim the national budget by Friday, $85 billion in automatic spending cuts will go into effect.
Known as sequestration, these cuts are, according to the Congressional Research Service, largely across-the-board spending reductions that will impact most programs within the federal budget.
However, it is important to note that there is no current federal budget. Instead, the country’s fiscal house is running on a continuing resolution that funds programs at the previous budget’s rate.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will take the oath of office for a second supervisorial term at 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, while simultaneously making history as the first African American chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors pledged this week to seek to expand programs designed to keep foster youth from ending up in the county’s probation system.
Memorial services for veteran news cameraman Artie Williams III, who may rank as the most beloved local camera journalist ever, were pending Wednesday. Williams, who was 59, died Saturday during a diving accident at the Santa Catalina Island isthmus, it was reported. He would have turned 60 on Sunday.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks has lost his bid for a new trial on allegations he owed more than $60,000 for automated calls made to potential voters during his failed 2008 campaign for a seat on the county Board of Supervisors.