Five Cities Fire Authority to hold forums on ballot measure

The Five Cities Fire Authority will host a series of meetings this week to answer questions about an assessment district proposed to raise additional money for fire services in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Halcyon and Oceano.

Individual ballots will be mailed to property owners starting Feb. 14 asking whether they’ll agree to pay more for fire services.

If successful, the assessment district would raise $983,466 a year, which would go toward replacement of fire engines and equipment, and improve dispatch services for about 37,700 residents in the South County communities.

The extra money would also help the Fire Department retain its current staffing level after a two-year, $1.2 million federal grant expires this September. The agency hired three firefighters and three fire engineers with the money.

Property owners of single-family homes would pay $66 a year, with the additional cost showing up on property tax bills next year. The annual cost would vary for owners of multifamily units and commercial properties.

Property owners will have 45 days to vote. When balloting ends April 4, a public hearing will be held and the votes will be counted. It requires a simple majority to pass.

Four meetings will be held this week in each of the communities, and all are open to the public. They include:

  • Monday at 6 p.m. in Arroyo Grande. The meeting will be held at fire station 66 at 140 Traffic Way.
  • Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Oceano Community Services District board room, 1655 Front St. (Highway 1).
  • Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Grover Beach Community Center, 1230 Trouville Ave. The forum will be held in conjunction with the regular meeting of the South County Democratic Club and is open to the public.
  • Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Temple of the People Community Center, on Temple Street in Halcyon.

The joint Fire Department was formed in 2010, several years after Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano started sharing personnel and equipment. The three communities share the agency’s $3.6 million annual cost.

For more information about the meetings, call 473-5490.