29 Palms Community Gearing Up To Consider Another Fire Tax Measure

(July 12) TWENTYNINE PALMS — A move is now afoot to once again seek voter approval from residents within the boundaries of the Twentynine Palms Water District for an increase in the special fire service tax that funds the Twentynine Palms Fire Department.
Since 1958, the fire department in 29 Palms has been overseen by the water district. The department has grown to include two fire stations and seven firefighters to cover the 59 square miles within the Twentynine Palms City Limits and the 29 square miles of unincorporated county area that also falls under the water district/fire department’s 88-square mile jurisdiction. The city does not contribute to, participate in or subsidize the fire department’s operational budget.
In 2012, water district voters rejected a tax increase measure and the water district explored  surrendering authority over the fire department to the county fire department. County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said that working within the confines of the $1.244 million in available special tax funding for local fire service, he would need to close down one of the fire stations and reduce the department to no more than four firefighters.  Several local residents have lobbied officials to have the water district keep control of the fire department and maintain current service levels, and the merger proposal with county fire has been withdrawn.
A citizens’ committee to develop a ballot measure  has formed and met this week, discussing efforts to stabilize fire department finances and the placement of a ballot measure before the water district’s voters that would generate sufficient revenue to increase the fire department to an eight-man force.

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