Big Bear Lake – The process to fund the growing needs of the Big Bear Valley’s fire service has taken the next step to get the measure on the March 3, 2020 ballot at the recent Fire Board meeting. The Fire Board unanimously voted to approve two resolutions that declare the intention to form a Community Facilities District (CFD) which allows a wide range of taxation methods through the 1982 act named Mello-Roos. This allows for the collection of a special tax on the mountain resorts, private home rentals and a 6 cent per foot assessment on all property within the CFD area.
The decision will be made by the voters next March giving the Fire Authority the ability to collect these funds and in the future issue bonds for major capital improvements to fire facilities within the district. Discussions have been taking place in the community regarding the level of fire and paramedic service needed and desired and how to spread the burden evenly amongst property owners, tourists and resort visitors. The stated goals include a charge of 6 cents per foot of developed property, a charge of $750,000.00 to the mountain resorts, $35.00 per vacant lot and an annual charge of $78.00 per room for motels and temporary private home rentals. In addition a one time charge will be applied to new development of 67 cents a foot when building permits are issued. Exemptions will be allowed for very low income and disabled persons who may be otherwise required to pay per foot homeowners property tax.
Chief Jeff Willis and other board members have expressed that, due to our growing needs as a community, these funds will allow the department to keep up with the current demands and be flexible as needed. Although this added burden on the community is not going unnoticed, a focus on community fire safety, property values and economic impacts of a tourism based economy has been weighed against the dangers and perception of living and playing in a high fire danger zone. In that way the members of our community will be the final word in deciding how to pay for the level of fire and paramedic services as a community we are willing to live with.
The next Big Bear Fire Authority Board meeting will be on Tuesday, October 1st starting at 5pm in the conference room at the fire station in Big Bear Lake. The public is invited to attend.