CAMINO — The mail-in ballot results for El Dorado County’s Measure B are now official but since the special election balloting closed Monday, there was little doubt the proposal to fund more firefighters was going to lose big.
A two-thirds vote was required but just 38% voted “yes.”
Property owners in communities like Pollock Pines, Coloma, Placerville and Shingle Springs would have had to pay an extra $94 a year so that four of the six engines in the sprawling El Dorado County Fire Protection District would get three crew members instead of two.
The district said structure fires are burning hotter and faster than in years past.
“For two firefighters to try to deal with that dynamic on a day in, day out basis is creating a safety issue,” said Fire Chief Lloyd Ogan.
Ogan said the vote did not affect the financial status of the district but the staffing issue could affect how quickly fires could be dealt with.
The Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County said voters were wary of the measure because there were not enough safeguards on how the money was spent.
Association Vice President Andy Nevis said the measure was rushed into a special election instead of being fine-tuned for the March primary.
“We would have been able to provide a lot of recommendations and maybe get to a point where we weren’t opposed,” he said.
Ogan held a positive outlook following the measure’s defeat, saying the public engagement during the campaign would be helpful in coming up with a solution to the staffing problem.
Legislative measures will be explored because the state has taken money away from special districts in the past that have crippled fire districts around the state.
The taxpayer group says it wants to help the district’s efforts to solve the problem, possibly suggesting funding guarantees in any future tax proposals.