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Measure B could come before voters again

Opponents say it?s a ?runaway tax?
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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A group of Newcastle residents opposed to some of the terms outlined in Measure B have collected enough signatures to see it changed or brought back before voters. Measure B, an annual $146.46 parcel tax, which has incremental increases based on the square footage of a property owner?s structures, was passed in March by more than 68 percent of voters. As it currently stands, Measure B will fund a new fire station, a raise for firefighters and provide them with health benefits. Its supporters, including the Newcastle Fire Protection District Board, say after a three-year long analysis they are certain it is the best solution to the district?s current problems. Firefighters sleep in a recreational vehicle, equipment is housed in a condemned building and many firefighters make $8.50 per hour with no benefits. Opponents of the tax say they support the measure?s goals, but it is a runaway tax and needs to be modified to be reasonable. They are proposing the tax continue for three years, then go down to $30 per parcel and not contain any provisions for an increase, according to an initiative submitted to the Placer County Office of Elections. ?I received a registered Letter Saturday June 28, 2012 from the county elections office stating our measure had passed and we had the proper number of registered voters signatures,? said Susie Brown, of Newcastle in regards to the modified version of Measure B. Ryan Ronco, assistant clerk-recorder for the Placer County Office of Elections, confirmed that 398 valid signatures were received. A total of 298 were needed for the district to take action on the modified measure. The board has the option of adopting the measure outright or putting it forth as a ballot proposition, he added. Yvonne Lewis, chairman of the Newcastle Fire Protection District Board, said the board will vote on the issue at the regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night. She added that the modified version of Measure B being proposed will not be able to meet the goals of building a fire station that meets state standards or giving firefighters a raise. ?The only comment I can share on that is the fact that we were following the direction of the majority of the people that voted for it,? Lewis said. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in the staff room at Newcastle Elementary School in Newcastle. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News.