If Proposition A, a ballot measure that would introduce a parcel tax to pay for increased fire protection, is passed, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department could reestablish a stalled facilities improvement program, according to a report just issued by the city’s Office of the Independent Budget Analyst.
The resurrection of that program could allow the city to build five new fire stations and add a truck or engine company to two existing fire stations.
The program has been inoperative since the city lost its ability to access the public bond market in 2004, the report states. Independent Budget Analyst Andrew Tevlin estimates that the city of San Diego would receive about $10 million in funding from Prop. A, which allocates half of the revenue from the parcel tax to a new regional fire agency and half to the local jurisdiction in which the money is raised.
The report states:
If the ballot measure passes, the Fire-Rescue Department has communicated to us their intent to reestablish the Fire and Lifeguard Facilities Improvement Program, with the focus on building five new fire stations and adding a truck or engine company to two other existing fire stations.
The report points out that it’s unclear whether the money could actually be used for this purpose, as the revenue that would be raised by the new tax is only supposed to be spent on augmenting, not supplanting, existing fire protection resources. It states:
It is our understanding that only those projects that will add/enhance fire protection services (i.e. new stations, the addition of a truck/engine to an existing station) would be permissible. However, further clarification is needed to understand whether Proposition A funds could be utilized to address the City’s significant deferred maintenance in existing fire stations.
The city could also use the revenue to borrow money up-front to pay for improved fire resources, the IBA report states. The city could potentially borrow about $90 million to pay for improved fire resources, according to the report.
And the report points out any additional fire stations would cost the city millions of dollars to staff and operate each year, money the city will have to find itself. Prop. A funds are not expected to be sufficient to cover those costs, the report states.