Reporting Ron Jones
NEWCASTLE (CBS13) – The 90-year-old fire station in Newcastle is in bad shape and the salaries of the district’s firefighters are rivaled by fast food workers, but there’s a dispute about how to address the issues.
Placer County officials are questioning the fire building’s structural soundness and demanding an engineer inspect it for safety.
“The building itself is in very, very bad shape,” said David Poore with the Newcastle Fire Protection Board.
Also in bad shape are the salaries of the nine firefighters.
“Slightly over $10 an hour,” Poore said.
“That’s quite low,” a resident named Rachel noted. “People make that at In N Out I believe.”
Last March voters approved Measure B. It includes an annual $146 parcel tax to help pay for a brand new $2 million fire station and better firefighter benefits.
But not everyone agrees with the way Measure B was written. Some say the measure is nothing more than a blank check with no proper oversight.
“It’s unfair,” Glenda Freeman said.
There’s also a trust issue with fire district leaders.
“I don’t want to say that we think that fraud will occur, but we don’t have much faith in what the current board has already wasted money on,” Freeman said.
So in responce a new measure has been placed on the November ballot. Measure K would reform Measure B and give the parcel tax a three-year life span, followed by a fee that could cost the average homeowner $30 a year. That would cover maintenance and salaries.
But the fire board says the money will quickly run out and so could some of the firefighters.
“The firefighters will not get a raise and will not get benefits,” Poore said.
Those against Measure B say taxpayers have been digging into their pockets long enough.
“Since they’ve had to live within their means in these economic downturns and all these things, then the fire board needs to too,” Freeman said.