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Templeton asking residents to pay more for fire coverage

Posted at 6:11 PM, Nov 09, 2018

Fire safety is top of mind for people across the Central Coast right now, whether that’s wildfires or house fires.

In Templeton, the Community Services District (CSD) is asking residents to pay a little extra to keep its fire station staffed.

“They risk their lives for us, the least we can do is fund them,” said Scott Beer, president of Come Get Your Cookies.

Fifteen-dollars per household per month is all it would take to keep Templeton Fire fully staffed.

Beer said he’s seen people spend more on food and drinks.

“Three times a month for a coffee somewhere else and that’s the fire protection for an entire month, 24/7,” Beer said.

The fire department says, if it doesn’t get the funding, it could affect response time.

KSBY spoke to Templeton Fire Chief Bill White at the beginning of the summer. He says they’re still struggling to pay employees.

“If the taxpayer is not willing to fund that, that’s their decision, but they just have to realize that the next available engine may be on a call that is within 60 square miles of that station’s response zone,” Chief White said.

Most people said the extra $15 is a no-brainer.

“I just can’t imagine possibly losing that and then having to wait for responses from possibly Paso Robles or Atascadero,” said Dan Featherstone, Templeton resident.

However, according to the CSD, a study conducted in 2015 for a similar tax didn’t gain enough support.

Currently, the fire department only gets about 9 percent of property taxes.

“Templeton has grown and the tax base has grown, but that tax increment that the district receives has remained largely the same,” said Jeff Briltz, Templeton CSD General Manager.

In the past, they’ve asked the county for an increased share of property tax money, but instead, might have to pin hopes on a property tax hike.

“Major fires in Northern and Southern California right now – really devastating – just occurring within the last days and we are not able to provide additional resources,” added Briltz.

Based on the survey results, the district will have the option of issuing a parcel tax or special benefits assessment.

The CSD hired a consultant to survey about 200 people via phone and email. They are asking that people take the time to answer the few questions honestly.

If the weeklong survey gains enough support, voters can expect to make a decision in August 2019.