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Kenwood Fire directors set next year’s assessment levels

Kenwood Fire directors set next year’s assessment levels
The Kenwood fire station. Fire assessments will increase substantially for most of the residential, commercial, and agricultural parcels taxed; however, they are in line with similar rates countywide.Photo by Jay Gamel

By Jay Gamel

Kenwood residents, businesses, and farmers will be paying 20 percent less in fire assessments for 2022– 2023 than the full amount authorized under the new parcel tax rates approved last year. After reviewing next year’s preliminary budget needs and the potential revenue the full tax could raise, four of the Kenwood Fire Protection District’s directors agreed the full amount was not necessary for the next round of parcel tax assessments.

The decision was reached at a May 10 public hearing at the Kenwood firehouse. The four directors present, Bob Uboldi, John Cooper, Daymon Doss, and Jack Atkin, supported the final tax levy for 2022–2023. Director August Moretti was not able to attend.

In 2021, voters overwhelmingly supported the district’s request to raise the $40 annual parcel tax levied for the past 40 years to meet increased costs of emergency and fire protection.

Assessments will increase substantially for most of the residential, commercial, and agricultural parcels taxed; however, they are in line with similar rates countywide.

Kenwood’s 844 residential and commercial lots will pay $0.096 a square foot for their homes; the full rate would be $0.12 a square foot. At this rate, a 1,200-square foot house would be assessed $115.20.

These are rough totals for now, according to Chief Daren Bellach. A breakdown of residental and commercial numbers should be sorted out next year. The overwhelming number of parcels have single-family residential use codes. These codes are not included with the county tax bills, just the computed tax.

The district’s 85 agricultural parcels will be assessed $13 an acre for a minimum of 300 acres and a maximum of 3,900. That’s a reduction from $16 an acre for up to 4,000 acres.

The 100 vacant properties will be charged $80, instead of the $100 a year authorized by the new levy.

Chief Bellach and the directors have made a preliminary review of the existing parcel classifications and calculate they will generate approximately $330,600 for the district’s 2023-2024 budget.

The county determines the square foot number for residential and commercial parcels using information filed with Permit Sonoma when structures are built or modified. Not all parcels have been updated to reflect homes lost to the 2017 and 2020 fires that may not have been replaced, while others may have been rebuilt with higher or lower square footages. Mailing addresses and other information may need to be updated as well.

Chief Bellach will help parcel owners update their tax information; however, the Sonoma County Assessor’s Office assigns the use codes that determine the tax rates applied. That office can be reached at (707) 565-1888.

Firehouse sign

The rough wooden box announcing the Kenwood Firefighters’ Association (KFA) Father’s Day Breakfast on June 19 at the corner of Sonoma Highway and Randolph Avenue has drawn some attention from passersby in the past couple of weeks. It is a life-size placeholder for a new LED informational sign that has been funded with a grant secured by the KFA. Similar signs are already in place in Glen Ellen and Sonoma.

Arnold Drive commuters have seen a similar sign at Altimira Middle School for years, though we are assured the new signs will not be nearly as bright at night. The new sign will be used to post emergency notices, fire danger levels, and community messages.

The wooden sign is being moved around to work out the best place to put the sign for everyone: fire trucks, school parents, and general traffic at the busy intersection. It should be in place this year.