Fire chief optimistic voters will approve new levy
MONROE - With 26 days left until residents vote on the fate of its fire department, Fire Chief Jamie Silva left a public meeting on July 12 with a smile on his face.
“Everybody was very supportive,” Silva said following the informational meeting at the East County Senior Center in Monroe.
The chief, with a backing of a handful of career firefighters, spoke to groups of residents in Monroe two nights last week to give them the facts about the levy — and what it could mean if it doesn’t pass.
“We’re trying to give the facts to show people that we’re collecting less money,” Silva said.
And less revenue means cuts of more than one third of services unless something changes.
A pamphlet that went out last week to all households in Monroe told residents that because of dropping home values, the average homeowner paid $47.12 per month in 2009, but without passing the levy, would only pay $30 per month in 2013.
The maintenance and operations levy is asking for an additional $14.40 per month to keep the level of service the same.
The levy goes before voters Aug. 7. It needs 60 percent to pass.
“We’ve done what we could to make cuts before we cut the level of service, and now we’re going to the taxpayers and ask if they want the same level of service,” Silva said.
Campaign hopeful Eleanor Walters joined the senior center meeting last week with what she said was full support for the levy.
“People need to know this is not a matter of overspending,” said Walters, a Democrat who is running for state representative for the 39th district. “In order for us to keep our standard of service up, we’re going to have to be fairly creative,” she said.
If the levy does not pass, fire service will be cut by 39 percent — that’s 12 full-time firefighters and six part-time firefighters. Other impacts would include the closure of the Wagner Hill Fire Station and the termination of special operations like flood rescue and hazardous materials response.
If the levy passes, the fire department’s current service level will be maintained.
A small group of about five senior citizens came to the July 12 question and answer session; approximately 30 showed up to the July 11 meeting at the Tulaco Grange in Monroe.
Silva said he is “pretty confident” it will pass. “I have not heard anything negative,” Silva said, but knocked on wood for good measure.