Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 11:28 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 

Local News

County to Increase Property Tax Funding for Fire Services

Board of Supervisors votes to allocate a higher percentage of revenue to the department beginning in 2014-15

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a move that would increase the percentage of funding the county’s fire department gets from current property tax rates.

Earlier this year, outside consulting firm Citygate Associates reported that Santa Barbara County pays a lower portion of its property taxes to fire services than other communities.

Under the changes approved Tuesday, County Fire will receive $5.9 million when the tax rate is raised from 12 to 14 percent. The change will take effect in July. Every year after that, the tax rate will be set at 17 percent, plus 25 percent of property tax increments designated for the general fund.

“We are not fixing in any way the financial mess we’re in with this transfer,” said Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, adding that instead the county is providing a reliable source of funding for the fire department. 

But the increase in tax for fire services prompted other county agencies to ask for their share.

In a separate item before the supervisors, Sheriff Bill Brown said the property tax decision would have long-term impacts on law enforcement.

Brown proposed that Proposition 172 dollars, which come from a half-cent sales tax to fund public safety, including fire, be used only for law enforcement going forward.

He recommended that the change begin as soon as the fire department’s shift begins this summer. The county supervisors approved the change, but a year later than Brown asked. 

The board voted to begin the shift in the 2014-15 fiscal year, allowing the fire department to meet its projections from the shift.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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