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UPDATE: All Cities were not created equally

By   /   November 19, 2012  /   25 Comments

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This should shed some light on why Yucca Valley has really good fire protection and 29 Palms is in the situation it is. In Yucca Valley, 21.78% of the GENERAL TAX LEVY goes directly to the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District which provides fire protection for Yucca Valley; and “goes directly to” means exactly that… the Town of Yucca Valley doesn’t get to touch it.

The Town of Yucca Valley receives 16.53% to pay for its responsibilities (law enforcement, parks, roads, etc.).

In 29 Palms no portion of the GENERAL TAX LEVY goes to fire protection, meanwhile the CITY of 29 PALMS receives 26.38% (the highest percentage directly received by any city in San Bernardino County) to pay for its responsibilities (law enforcement, parks, roads, etc.).

When you compare taxing entities common to both (school district, college, hospital, county general fund) the citizens of 29 Palms contribute a higher percentage to each of those common entities than do the citizens of Yucca Valley.

Are the citizens of 29 Palms getting screwed? Draw your own conclusions.

UPDATE: General Tax Levy Distribution 29 and YV

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  • Published: 2 years ago on November 19, 2012
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  • Last Modified: November 19, 2012 @ 4:57 pm
  • Filed Under: 29 Palms


  1. Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

    Educate us SP, where does the General Tax Levy for 29 Palms go?

    • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:

      Smarty addressed the most important aspect. Lets repeat it….

      Twentynine Palms General Tax Levy:
      26.38% to the city.
      0.00% to fire protection.

      Yucca Valley General Tax Levy:
      16.53% to the town
      21.78% for fire protection

      The City of 29 palms get a higher percentage of the general tax revenue than any other entity in San Bernardino County. Fire protection gets none!!!

      • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:


        What are the chances of slowing this train down as C.J. Horn mentioned at the Water Board level?

        I only ask this because other options are viable and available I would think.

        Years ago when there was earnest work in trying to get the city to assume the fire responsibility it was eventually derailed not because of any animosity.

        Rather it was derailed because there was reluctance by both legal staffs, the City as well as the Water District, to find a solution.

        One such thought at the time, which was never fully fleshed out, was the formation of a JPA between the City and the Water District so as to continue to collect the revenues that are in place, the parcel assessment, and then to also provide fire service to the Ccity and Desert Heights.

        I have just spent the last 90 minutes watching the council meeting and the presentation by Chief Hartwig.

        Is is clear in what he said – 29 palms is going to go to three fire fighters and one station. That is a FIFTY PERCENT cut in present services no matter how you cut it.

        Perhaps that is the only option available but I have not heard from city staff a presentation about forming a JPA or any other solution other than county fire is the only way to go.

        So I was wondering if the Water Board slowed the train down a bit and then both agencies looked at other alternatives then perhaps we could save our fire department and its current level of service.

        Just thoughts.

        • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:


          As a citizen, I agree that the current implications of transitioning to county are disturbing at best. However, the bottom line is that we can only slow the train down if an agency is willing to provide funds to help temporarily close the deficit and delay insolvency. No such offer has been made. Furthermore, the LAFCO process is moving forward, which complicates matters. I have offered the idea of a JPA in an attempt to maintain local control, but I got little traction. I believe part of the reason is because there was no support from the city. The ball is in the City’s court. They must choose. If they do offer to temporarily supplement operations, the water board would have to decide whether it is in the best interest of the district constituency to suspend the LAFCO process. That said, I am only one director and I can only give you my opinion.

          • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

            Points well taken.

            I will ask the city to evaluate other options but after watching the council meeting I see exactly what you are saying.

            Do you think many people in the District and the city know that we are looking at a 50 percent reduction is fire services should this current situation remained unchallenged?

            I will also ask the water Board to look at other options.

            Six years ago we as a City and a Water Board worked well together I would think that it can be done again or at least I hope it can be.

            • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:

              I am not sure how many citizens know how dire the situation is. Sometimes the hardest job is informing the public. There are many inaccurate stories and false facts out there. Its hard for folks to discern truth from fiction.

              I will work with anyone willing to help create a sustainable model for fire protection, but I cannot force cooperation. Agencies have to be willing to come to the table. This is probably one of the most critical issues our community will ever face. I hope we can set aside the animosity and work as a team.

            • Cora Heiser Cora Heiser says:

              This is clearly an important issue that does not need to be swept under the rug. We need to have a real public session with all real workable solutions offered. The decision needs to be based on what is best for 29. We have almost waited too late. We can no longer accept silent stares as answers to questions.
              Like you Chancey, I am only one, but I am willing to help work on this situation. It is too important to be “politicized.”

            • Kim Ortamond Kim Ortamond says:

              Chance, Like Cora I am ready to get the straight facts and present them to the public. When can you, Cora, Dan, and anyone else that will put honest facts out there for the citizens to make a good judgement call. So lets pick a time and date for us to meet, draw up our plans and hit the streets to make sure the people will know in 29 Palms.

            • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:

              Cora and Kim,

              I am happy to discuss our options as a community. I am sure we will all be in touch very soon.

            • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

              Hi Chance,

              You use a phrase that was not used by any council member at the recent meeting that being a “sustainable model”.

              This current proposal to have county take over the fire service with 1/2 the personal and 1/2 the equipment at the current cost that we now get six fire fighters and two stations is also not sustainable.

              It is not because it is funded through the same old parcel assessment system that has no mechanism to adjust itself for the real life factor of inflation.

              Eventually, as Chief Hartwig implied, our current funding mechanism needs to be repaired. If it does not get fixed I can see the County pulling out of the city for lack of funding.

              At that point the city will have to step up to the plate but it will be too late.

              I agree that the agencies must cooperate and flesh out other solutions than what it is being proposed right now.

              Getting that to happen might be harder than finding the money to save our fire department.

            • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:


              Here is the dark secret that council isn’t talking about. Even after the major cuts in fire protection, County still cannot sustain this model very long. I believe Chief Hartwig stated that the proposed model is approximately $31,755 in the black on year one. Assuming no other funding or reserve, the newly proposed county model is probably only good for approximately two or three years before new cuts are necessary. This assumes that operations run perfectly as budgeted.

            • Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

              Chancey, I don’t think this is a deep,dark secret. The chief stated the situation at the briefing he gave the CC. The CC has his briefing papers and I’m sure they are getting fiscal and legal advise on the matter. Like you said, the system is in the black through mid 2014. There’s a CC meeting on the 27th Perhaps you, Dan, Steve and Ben can state your recommended solutions to this problem then.

            • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:

              I apologize for the hyperbole. Perhaps it was a poor choice of wording. Unfortunately, no council member satisfactorily addressed the issue of sustainability. I think it is of major concern that the public knows how long the model will last and why simply transitioning to county is not a permanent fix. Did you know it was a two to three year fix? They also didn’t question the inconsistencies between the Chief Hartwig’s original proposal and the new model. Even if they already knew the answers, they could have provided them to the public. Why not address these issues?

            • Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

              Chancey, I’m not getting a reply button on your post below. Was the chief’s original proposal at a CC meeting or in the meetings with the CC, LAFCO and the 29 Palms Water District? I would surmise that this will come up as an agenda item soon. The presentation by the chief last week wasn’t an agendized item. But I agree that it has to resolved sooner rather than later.

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      I am not SP as we all know I am too dumb to considered a “smarty”.

      Your answer Steve “W” is that General Tax levy goes to everything other than fire protection. It is but a part of the general Fund revenue stream. That General Fund is used for Police, salaries, operating expenses, roads, etc.

      The key point is that not one cent of that general tax levy goes to the fire department.

      Could it go to the fire department? Yes, but it will take some people that have the will to seek alternative solutions. I ain’t seen any of them – yet.

      As this issue becomes more and more heated I think we will see some demands placed on city staff that have not been placed upon them at this point.

      At least I can hope.

  2. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

    29 Palms’ founding fathers were 5 smart cookies.

    • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

      While I do agree that the original founding members of the city council were pretty smart I do not believe this has to do with their IQ nor what they might have been able to do 30 years ago. What this means is Fire protection was a function of the Water District and the City did not have to worry about it….

      Well today we have to worry…. we can neither turn a blind eye to the thing nor reasonably think that by giving the job of fire protection to the county that we will be safer.

      The lousy $100K more to fund the existing Fire Department can be made up by firing RSG, or knocking off funding Mountain Goat monument signs that do nothing to make our city safer, or even more productive. We piss more than $100K a year away in wasted spending.

      Public Safety is the NUMBER ONE reason you incorporate as a municipal government. All other reason pale in importance. Refusing to accept that responsibility when it is time to shoulder it is a reason to agree with Mark Clemons at times…. If the city is unwilling to do what is right they have no reason to exist.

      • Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

        How about taking it out of the 11/12 million dollar emergency fund for the fire department’s 2014 budget and then have another citizen’s vote on the fire tax. I think even Steve S. “liked” that idea.

        • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

          Sounds like a winner for me…. Fire Protection is what I call a serious and prudent use of that emergency fund…

          I believe the proposed use of the fund for Splash Pads and other Non-essential uses have made the discussion of the Rainy Day fund almost taboo. That is the fault of poor leadership at the staff level.

          We have wasted months and possibly local control of one of the most important elements of public safety because of a fellow in charge of this city is butt sore at the citizens because they did not buy into his plan to build a monument to Gary Daigneault.

          We have wasted a year and spent $30 Million plus in future tax dollars all whilst the important things like public safety have been put on the back burner…. We now have to deal with it.

          • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:

            I agree. Supplementing the fire budget for a year would take some pressure off and allow for the development of a ballot measure or a more sustainable model. However, I fear that a majority of city staff and council members may have already made up their minds on the issue.

        • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

          Larry, I agree with you and your willingness to try to find another solution other than accepting a 50 PERCENT cut in fire protection services.

          I like your idea of using the reserves to buy some time in order to evaluate other options.

        • Larry, another attempted tax increase will not be passed.

          On the brighter side (which is not bright at all), it’s gamble with odds of a 75 fail rate. Both 29 and now Y.V. with Measure U have bumped up those odds way beyond odds beyond the 75 percent fail rate.

          The first year funding for the fire department,coming from city reserves is a viable back-up option that would work.

          It’s up to the City Council to finally take the initiative to save the public and private sectors: I like the idea of a JPA (Joint Powers
          Authority) or partnering with County Fire, where the city steps up to its municipal responsibilities.

          If not, I agree with Dan and Mark C. — the city serves NO USEFUL PURPOSE WHATSOEVER and it should be dissolution.

          People I talk to seem to understand their tax funds are not being uses very efficiently, and they are intolerant to more taxes.

          Further, with a 37 percent in groceries — and going up, fuel costs that remain high, a soured and bleak economy prognosis, cuts in entitlements,another TPWD increase, loss of employment and a huge unemployment and underemployment rate in the Basin, the critical lack of jobs,and more taxes absolutely on the way from Sacramento, in addition to Prop. 30, new taxes are doomed from the start.

          People can only take so much. I guarantee you, Larry, any new taxes will fail.

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Hi Larry I can not get a reply button either.

      As to your question – I have confirmed that Chief Hartwig’s original estimates as provided to the joint meeting of the Council and Water Board are off by as much as 25%. He also thought that he could staff both the Lear and Adobe Stations at a level of two and two at that time. Then comes the council meeting and that is no longer a viable option because we now have “Paramedic” enhancement to the proposal. What happens if we remove that paramedic option? What happens if we go with only one full time FF on duty and three of those LTFF individuals to man the Adobe and Lear Stations? What happens if and if?

      The point being Larry is that the Council has not stepped up to the plate and demanded the hard staff work that is required to flesh this situation out. Even more egregious is the council has not demanded of staff that this information be presented in public.

      In other words at the first meeting things were 25% less costly than they were at the city council meeting of last week.

      I am starting to agree with C. J. Horn on this matter. Something is amiss. This issue went from evaluating the options to a fast track towards County Fire and our loss of 1/2 of our Fire Department. Why?

      Where are the public presentations of other options or have discussions been held between Chief Hartwig and Richard Warne, which Chief Hartwig admits happened during his presentation, that we as citizens have no information about?

      This issue is not over and I think you agree with us on that point at least.

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