Kenwood Press

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News: 09/15/2020

Incumbent Kenwood fire district directors unopposed

Four to be sworn in at Oct. 13 KFPD meeting

Kenwood Fire Protection District’s monthly board meeting had a few more spectators than usual owing to the presence of the Red Flag personnel on hand during the high fire danger days of early September. The news was positive on all fronts, with all four of the district’s directors who were up for election this year getting a ‘bye’ since no one chose to run against them by the time nominations closed on Aug. 12. No opposition means no election is necessary and the incumbents can be sworn in at next month’s regular meeting on Oct. 13.

Board Chair Daymon Doss and August Moretti, both appointed to a newly expanded board in 2018, will serve two-year terms, while veterans John Cooper and John Kempers will sit for regular four-year terms. Future elections will rotate three and then two directors every two-year election cycle. They will stand for normal, four-year terms.

The District’s operating and capital budgets for Fiscal Year 20/21 were finalized. The operating budget will be $1.4 million, and the capital expenditure budget will be $2.4 million, both as previously reported (Kenwood Press, Aug. 1 edition). An additional $20,000 may be realized soon with the expected sale of surplused engine 3182 to the Alturas Fire Department next month. The engine needs to pass a few inspections to finalize the sale. The money will go into the KFPD operating budget.

Measure Z is a top priority

Keeping the Fire Protection District’s already approved spending limit is vital to continuing operations of the Kenwood fire-fighting program. Proposition 4 imposed a requirement to set and review spending limits in 1979. It is frequently referred to as the ‘Gann Limits’ after the proposition’s author, tax activist Paul Gann, also a co-sponsor of 1977’s Prop 13. The net effect is that special districts, like KFPD, must review and renew their spending limits periodically to keep them in touch with the existing tax base.

As a spending cap limit, the district’s proposed appropriation spending limit ordinance, Measure Z, will require a simple majority vote to pass.

“People need to understand that this is not a tax increase,” Chief Daren Bellach said when the board was discussing reaching out to district voters who will see it on the November ballot.

The text is mercifully short: “Shall the Kenwood Fire Protection District adopt Ordinance No. 20/21-01 ratifying its appropriations limits to assure continued fire, rescue and emergency medical services?” The current limits were set automatically some years ago, but must be re-ratified this year to remain in effect.

According to the voters’ guide at the Sonoma County Registrar’s office website, “A ‘yes’ vote on Measure Z is a vote to continue the previously approved increase in the District’s appropriations (spending) limit.”

Anyone with questions about the measure should call Chief Bellach at 833-2042.

KFD supports keeping Henry One

The Directors voted unanimously to support the retention of Sheriff’s Rescue helicopter designated “Henry One.” In a letter originally penned by the Sonoma County Fire District Association, the request notes that “Henry One rescued two Marin County fire fighters from certain injury and death,” just recently.

Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick proposed defunding the popular and highly visible rescue airship in June, citing budget shortfalls. He also proposed closing the El Verano Sheriff’s substation and another substation in Guernville. Those budget cuts will be decided by the Board of Supervisors in September.

“The Sheriff’s Department receives the lion’s share of money from Proposition 172; this money from sales taxes, was to be used for police, fire, the District Attorney, and probation,” the letter reads, in part. “The fire community receives little of this funding. We feel that maintaining Henry One as an asset in the Sheriff’s Department that supports the greater public safety in Sonoma County is a reasonable and responsible use of some of this funding.”

State Proposition 172 was passed in 1993. It imposed a half-cent sales tax mandated to be spent for police, sheriff, fire protection, county district attorneys, and county jail and probation departments.

It is the only tax increase approved in a California special election between 1980 and 2010.

The letter was sent to Sheriff Essick and Supervisor Susan Gorin, who chairs the Board of Supervisors.

New volunteers

Hard to find in the best of times, not one, but four volunteers have appeared on the scene in the last month, with one already qualified and ready to begin training as a full time volunteer and three other part-time volunteers still waiting for physical reports to qualify, according to Chief Bellach. The District encourages anyone with the time and health to participate in the program. Volunteers are essential to the smooth and efficient working of the Kenwood Fire Protection District.


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