Heights approves Fire Tax
By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal
The La Habra Heights City Council approved the annual increase of the fire tax at its May meeting.
The 1.7 percent increase is an adjustment reflective of the cost of living increase, according to Shauna Clark, La Habra Heights City Manager.
According to city staff, the estimated cost to fund the La Habra Heights Fire Department this year is $1,285,639.
The tax, with the approved COLA increase is estimated to generate nearly $1,069,350. The remaining $216,289 will be covered by the city’s general fund.
La Habra Heights Mayor Kyle Miller explained that the fire department is separate but also a part of the city. He added that they share administrative costs of the city staff and that helps provide a savings.
The fire tax was adopted by the voters in 1997. The provisions established then require the city manager to annually recalculate the tax ammounts and give notice to the council. The council will then approve or reject the tax.
“There is a cost for the fire department,” Miller said, “but we try to keep it as low as we can for the residents.”
Anne Edwards suggested that the council should consider eliminating the tax and possibly turning the services over to Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Council members explained that they had received bids from LA County Fire two years ago and it was approximately $3 million.
Miller said that it would not be the best choice for the residents.
The city had also previously approved a cost-per-use for paramedic coverage.
Clark explained that the city has a fire tax for suppression and that it used to pay the city of La Habra for paramedic service. A couple years ago, the city decided to do its own.
“The paramedics are funded by the fire tax, the general fund and the proceeds that they bring in,” Clark said.
The proceeds are the per-use charge of $45 for the residents of LHH.
“For the day-to-day operations and the calls that we get, the fire department does a pretty good job,” said Councilman and former fireman Roy Francis. “Dollar for dollar the community is getting a good deal here and getting a good service.”
He added that the “paramedic fee is the best insurance you can buy.”