BFPD Ordinance Text

BRICELAND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
ORDINANCE NO. 2013 – 1

AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE BRICELAND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT TO ADMINISTER THE SPECIAL TAX ON REAL PROPERTY LOCATED WITHIN THE DISTRICT

WHERAS, on August 28, 2012 the registered voters located in and adjacent to the unincorporated community of Briceland voted to approve the formation of the Briceland Fire Protection District (BFPD or District), and approved a special tax to fund fire protection services to District residents in a manner consistent with the Fire Protection District Law of 1987 (California Health and Safety Code Section 13800 and following); and

WHERAS, the Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) filed a Certificate of Completion of LAFCo Resolution No. 11-08 approved November 16, 2011, including the map and metes and bounds description of the boundaries of the District, which was duly recorded by the Official Records of Humboldt County, California on September 25, 2012 as Recording 2012-023978-12; and

WHERAS, the special tax approved by the voters includes two specific exemptions that (1) allow that any such parcels that are contiguous, undeveloped, held under identical ownership, and contain average fuel loading below a given threshold to be treated as a single parcel and may, upon approval of an application of the owners thereof to the District Board, be treated as a single parcel for purposes of this special tax, and (2) Provide for A Hardship Exemption, to allow landowners who fall within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines for ‘very low’ or ‘Poverty level” income to apply for an exemption of from the tax; and

WHEREAS, the Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), in approving the formation of the District, required that the Briceland Fire Protection District hold duly noticed public hearings and establish procedures by ordinance to administer the special tax including the above referenced exemptions that balance the needs of the District for funding and the burdens on property owners and file such ordinance with LAFCo:

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE BRICELAND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT AS FOLLOWS

SECTION 1: Purpose and Intent. The purpose and intent of the Briceland FPD Board of Directors with respect to the special tax is as follows:

To provide annual budget support to the Briceland Volunteer Fire Department, as agreed to each year by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to fund ongoing fire protection services including firefighting equipment and apparatus and necessary capital improvements, consistent with the needs of the residents of the District and the Fire Protection District Law of 1987, with emphasis on mandated and statutory requirements for personnel and equipment safety.

To provide for a Reserve Fund to be built over time by setting aside each year a percentage of total revenue placed into the District Trust Fund, said percentage to be agreed upon and set each year at a public meeting of the Briceland FPD Board.

SECTION 2: Tax Imposed. Land parcels to be taxed under this Ordinance shall be defined as any taxable parcel of land, developed or undeveloped, wholly or partially located with the Briceland Fire Protection District as defined by both published map and by metes and bounds description of Humboldt County LAFCo Resolution 11-08 recorded with the County September 15, 2012; for which the County Assessor of Humboldt County has assigned an Assessor’s Parcel Number.
The special tax amount, as approved by the District voters August 28, 2012, is $85.00 (Eighty-Five and no dollars) per parcel.

SECTION 3: Exemption from Special Tax. Exempt parcel numbers furnished by the Assessor’s Office to the Briceland FPD include Public Owned Parcels (United States of American and State of California, other local agencies) and Non-Taxable Parcels as determined by various statues including, but not limited to, Disabled Veterans, Welfare Exemptions, Cemetery Exemptions, and Low Value exemptions, will not have the District special tax imposed. Two additional specific exemptions from the special tax are were approved by the District voters August 28, 2012:

Parcels which are contiguous, undeveloped, held under identical ownership and can be demonstrated to contain average fuel loading below a given threshold, to be determined by the District, may, upon approval of an application of the owners thereof to the District Board, be treated as a single parcel for purposes of this special tax.

The owners of such parcels shall submit an application Form, as contained in Attachment A to this Ordinance, to the Briceland Fire Protection District Board containing the owner name and address, property maps, and deed and title information that sufficiently demonstrate that the applicant is the owner of record or trustee of the owner of record with Power of Attorney for the owner of record for all the contiguous property. The Briceland Volunteer Fire Department or other designated agency shall determine fuel loading and make recommendations to the Board concerning any such application. Specific Policy and Procedures to carry out this exemption and revise the application form as required shall be adopted by Resolution by the Briceland FPD Board, following a public hearing.

A Hardship Exemption, to allow landowners who fall within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines for “very low”; or “poverty level” income to apply to the Briceland FPD Board for an exemption from the tax by submitting an application form contained as Attachment B containing the owner(s) name, the most recent property tax bill to demonstrate property ownership, and declaration under penalty of perjury that the applicant(s) qualify for the exemption per the guidelines on the form, which will be revised annually in July if required through Resolution following a public hearing, to reflect changing HUD guidelines.

Section 4: Annual Adjustment. The special tax may be adjusted through Resolution by the Briceland FPD Board at the beginning of each fiscal year, commencing July 1, 2013, following a public hearing, by no more than the cost of living as determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) prepared by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics or similar indicator of inflation that may come into common and widespread use, not to exceed five percent. The specific Index to be used is published by the California Department of Finance, Financial and Economic Data, CPI – California Monthly (All Items): from 1965, readily available on the web at http://www.dof.ca.gov/html/fs_data/latestecondata/FS_Price.htm.

In adjusting the special tax imposed as specified in Section 2 of this Ordinance, the Briceland FPD Board of Directors shall make findings indicating that costs have risen in the previous fiscal year(s) and that the Briceland FPD will not be able to ensure that the same level of service will be available to people and property within District without applying the annual adjustment approved by the voters.

SECTION 5: Method of Collection. The special tax imposed by this ordinance is due from every person or persons who owns a parcel or parcels within the Briceland FPD and is reflected upon the rolls of the County Assessor at the same time ad valorem tax is due and is to be collected in the same manner. The Humboldt County Tax Collector shall collect the tax and any penalty or interest due hereunder. The full amount due under this Ordinance shall constitute a debt to the Briceland Fire Protection District. Humboldt County may deduct the reasonable costs incurred by the County for this service before remittance of the balance to the Briceland FPD Trust.

SECTION 6: Delinquency. To any amount of the special tax created by this Ordinance that becomes delinquent, the Humboldt County Tax Collector shall add a penalty in the amount equal to any penalty owing for delinquencies in the ad valorem property tax. The tax and penalty shall bear interest at the same rate as the rate for unpaid ad valorem property tax until paid.

SECTION 7: Effective Date. Pursuant to California Government Code 25123(c), this Ordinance shall become effective immediately upon approval by the Briceland FPD Board of Directors.

SECTION 8: Annual Report. The Humboldt County Auditor/Controller, as the ‘financial officer’ of the Briceland FPD shall file an annual report regarding the use of the tax proceeds as required by Government Code Section 50075.3. This report shall be obtained by the Secretary/Clerk of the Briceland Fire Protection District in order to make an annual report to the district board.

The annual report shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following:

A. A statement indicating the specific purposes of the special tax.
B. A statement that the proceeds were applied only for the provision of fire protection services by
the Briceland Fire Protection District.
C. Enumeration of the account into which the proceeds have been deposited.
D. The amount of funds collected and expended.
E. The status of any project required or authorized to be funded as identified in subdivision (a) of
Government Code Section 50075.1.

SECTION 9: Invalidity. If any part of this ordinance is held to be invalid for any reason, such decision shall not affect the remaining portion of this Ordinance and the Briceland FPD Board of Directors hereby declares that it would have passed the remainder of this Ordinance as if such invalid portion thereof had been deleted.

SECTION 10: Adoption and Publication. This Draft Ordinance shall be introduced at the Briceland FPD Board meeting of December, 2012. Upon Board review and approval as a result of Board discussion and public input, the full text of this Draft Ordinance shall be published once in one or more local newspapers of general circulation, and copies posted in the community of Briceland and at the Beginnings Community Center in Briceland. Upon final approval and passage of this Ordinance by the Briceland FPD Board as a result of Board discussion and public input at its next regularly scheduled public meeting in January, 2013, within 15 days a summary of the final approved Ordinance shall be published once in one or more local newspapers of general circulation, and in the community of Briceland and at the Beginnings Community Center in Briceland.

SECTION 11: Posting. The District Board Secretary shall post a certified copy of the full text of this Ordinance, as adopted by the Board, within 15 days of its passage, per California Government Code 25124, along with the names of the board members voting for and against the Ordinance.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED at a regularly scheduled public meeting of the Briceland Fire Protection District Board this 15th day of January, 2013, by the following vote:

AYES: Board Members Jim Courtois, Gerald E. Myers, Peter Ryce, Jerry Sevier
NOES: None
ABSTAIN: None
ABSENT: Board Member Leib Ostrow

_______________________________________
Gerald E. Myers, President
Board of Directors
Briceland Fire Protection District

ATTEST:
________________________________________
Jim Courtois, Secretary to the Board
Briceland Fire Protection District

 

* * * * * * * * * *

BRICELAND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

RESOLUTION NO. 2013-01

CONTIGUOUS PARCEL/FIRE HAZARD EXEMPTION POLICY AND PROCEDURES

            WHEREAS,  The Briceland Fire Protection District Board has approved Ordinance No. 2013-01, an Ordinance to administer the special tax on real property located within the District; and

WHEREAS, the above Ordinance, in Section 3 A, provides an exemption from the special tax for “Parcels which are contiguous, undeveloped, held under identical ownership and can be demonstrated to contain average fuel loading below a given threshold, to be determined by the District,..”; and

WHEREAS, the above Section 3 A also states:  “The Briceland Volunteer Fire Department or other designated agency shall determine fuel loading and make recommendations to the Board concerning any such application. Specific Policy and Procedures to carry out this exemption and revise the application form as required shall be adopted by Resolution by the Briceland FPD Board, following a public hearing.”

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED as follows to adopt the following policy and procedures:

POLICY
The intention of the Fire Hazard Exemption is to allow for a reduced tax on undeveloped parcels that are maintained at an extremely low fire hazard.  These are parcels that due to their limited usage are unlikely to necessitate an emergency response, and due to their low level of fuel loading, a fire that does occur is likely to be less intense and complex than fires in other areas.

 

Overview
The Briceland Fire Protection District will make available to the public clear and concise definitions and examples of what qualifies a property for exemption from the special tax.  Landowners who feel they qualify may apply for exemption. This will be a simple form made available by the District, for download as well as in hard copy in a public location.  Upon approval by a quorum of the Briceland Fire Protection District Board of Directors, multiple contiguous undeveloped properties under identical ownership and containing an average of lessthan .75tons (1500 lbs) of fuel load per acre will be grouped as one property for the purpose of the special tax.

Definitions
Undeveloped: An undeveloped parcel will have no permanent structures, no power source (on or off-grid), and no significant fuel storage.  Water storage is specifically allowed.

Identical Ownership:  In the event that the owner of record of two properties is not identical, the applicant must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the board that they have a controlling interest in both properties.

Fuel Loading: The oven dry weight of fuels in a given area, measured in tons per acre.

 

New Applications
The District Fire Hazard Committee will review the application to confirm that the parcels in question are contiguous, that they meet the board’s definition of identical ownership, and that the landowner is aware of the requirements and feels confident that their parcel is a candidate for exemption.

At the request of the Briceland Fire Protection District, the Briceland Volunteer Fire Department will assign one officer or senior firefighter (who has completed California State Fire Marshal Wildland Fire Behavior training), and one new recruit or probationary firefighter (if available), to assess each property applying for exemption.

The firefighter(s) will make a field visit, and estimate the fire severity of the property, including potential for ignition based on land use, and potential fire intensity based on natural and introduced fuel loading.  Specifically, they will approximate whether the property contains an average of less than .5 tons of fuel loading per acre.  The firefighter(s) will submit a report to the BFPD Fire Hazard Committee, which will be made available to the landowner.

If the property does comply, the report will indicate what annual maintenance will be required to keep the property in compliance, and the committee should recommend that the property be approved for exemption.

If part of the property does comply, the firefighter(s) will use the Humboldt County Web GIS Map, or a similar program, to determine how much of the area is within compliance.  The report will indicate approximately what percentage of the property qualifies for exemption, and what annual maintenance will be required to keep the property in compliance.  If the property owner believes that there is an error in the area calculation, they may, at their own expense, produce proof to that effect, such as a surveyor’s map with a satellite or air-photo overlay, for the board’s consideration. For an application to be approved, regardless of the number of properties being merged the refund must amount to at least 75% of one parcel tax.

If the property does not comply, the report will indicate what steps would be necessary to bring the property into compliance.  If the landowner feels that there is an error in the fire hazard estimation, they may, at their own expense, hire a Registered Professional Forester to determine fuel loading, and if it is found to be below .5 tons/acre the committee should recommend that the property be approved for exemption.  Alternately, if a landowner has made efforts to reduce the fuel loading, they may request a repeat inspection from the Briceland Volunteer Fire Department, which would come at a cost to be determined by the Fire Department Board of Directors.

 

Upon receiving the report from the Fire Department, the District Fire Hazard Committee shall present their recommendation to the District Board, who will make a determination on the application.  If the board approves one or more properties that are only partially compliant, the tax will be prorated proportionate to the percentage of the area that is compliant.  For example, if a parcel is estimated to contain 80% grazed pasture and 20% timber, the exemption will apply to the 80% and the landowner will be billed for 20% of the tax.

Recertification
The landowner will be required to recertify annually that they understand what measures must be taken to keep their property in compliance, and that they will do so for that tax year, under penalty of perjury.  This will be a simple form that will be made available by the District, for download as well as in hard copy in a public location.

Accountability
There will be no follow-up inspections.  However in the case that a fire or other emergency causes a property to be observed, and it is apparent that the fuel loading has been grossly misrepresented, the landowner will be responsible for reimbursement of all tax liability accrued since the original exemption determination, as well as any legal ramifications for perjury and/or tax evasion.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED at a regularly scheduled public meeting of the Briceland Fire Protection District Board this 15th day of January, 2013, by the following vote:

AYES:  Board Members Jim Courtois, Gerald E. Myers, Peter Ryce, Jerry Sevier

NOES:  None

ABSTAINNone

ABSENT:  Board Member Leib Ostrow

________________________________________

Gerald E. Myers, President

Board of Directors

Briceland Fire Protection District

ATTEST:
_________________________________________

Jim Courtois, Secretary to the Board
Briceland Fire Protection District

For parcel tax exemption forms, click here.

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