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Measures don?t measure up to most voters

Three local initiatives were defeated in primary election
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Semi-official election results indicate sweeping loss was a common theme among local measures. Measures A, D and E did not garner enough votes to pass, based on the most up-to-date results available from the Placer County Office of Elections Wednesday. The elections office also reported overall low voter turnout for Tuesday?s primary contest. Measure A: Charter city iniative defeated Voters in the Auburn city limits made it clear that the majority of those who voted believe the city?s current government structure as a general law city is working just fine, with 65.32 percent opposed to the initiative for Auburn to become a charter city. Supporters of Measure A say the change would have allowed Auburn to engage in a constitutional right and gain more autonomy from the state legislature, which could have resulted in cost savings to taxpayers on some city projects. They contend unions from outside the area outspent them 10 to one to prevent the city from having the option of not paying prevailing wage on some projects. Opponents of the charter say loopholes within the charter carried the potential for major consequences, including corruption. In addition, they say Auburn has been running well as a general law city for 125 years and a change would be an unnecessary risk. Measure D: Engine company likely to be cut, unit chief says Residents in the North Auburn-Ophir area voted against a special tax for fire services in the area, which fire officials say means they have to start evaluating where to make cutbacks. The initiative, which needed the support of 66 percent of voters to pass, got only 41.03 percent ?yes? votes, according to semi-official results from the Placer County Office of Elections. Brad Harris, unit chief for Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit and chief of Placer County Fire, said it will likely have to eliminate about a third of the staffing currently serving the area. ?The reason that we put the measure out was to give the constituents an opportunity to decide the level of service they were looking for from their fire department,? Harris said. ?The direction is clear now of what our constituents say they are looking for. We are going to reduce one of the engine companies in the North Auburn-Ophir area.? Harris said the area currently has three engine companies and the department will probably eliminate the least busy one. Studies are being conducted over the next week to determine which one that is. Some firefighters may be reassigned, while others will likely be laid off, he added. ?It?s really the only option left to us,? Harris said. ?We are running in the red about $570,000 a year right now because of the decline in (property tax) revenue.? With fire agencies in the surrounding area, including Higgins, in South Nevada County, and Placer Hills, in the Meadow Vista-area, not getting the tax increases they were looking for either, response times into some areas will likely go up and it could be more difficult to provide mutual aid, he said. Measure E: Board will meet to discuss decrease in level of service Voters in the Placer Hills Fire Protection District have echoed the same sentiment against creating a new tax for the fire department, with semi-official results indicating Measure E got the support of just 52.9 percent of voters, according to the Placer County Office of Elections. That is not enough to meet the two-thirds requirement for the initiative to pass. Fire Chief Ian Gow said the board will be looking at ways to balance the budget. ?We?ve lost so much money and income due to the economic downturn that almost inevitably we are going to have to look at decreasing our level of service,? Gow said. ?My board will be discussing that tonight and at subsequent board meetings.? Gow agrees that with all of the local fire measures failing, the entire county will be impacted because multiple agencies are often called upon to fight large fires and even house fires. ?If we all cut fire engines, we all have less available resources to fight those fires,? Gow said. ?We were only able to garner 52 percent of the vote, that?s a pretty crushing defeat, even though that?s tempered by the fact that it?s a very low turnout.? Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News. ______________________________________________________Proposal to adopt charter for the City of Auburn Yes- 748- 34.68 % No- 1,409- 65.32 % 14 out of 14 precincts reporting Measure D Special tax for North Auburn-Ophir Fire Yes- 1,661- 41.03 % No- 2,387- 58.97 % 30 out of 30 precincts reporting Measure E Special tax for the Placer Hills Fire Protection District Yes- 1,203- 52.9 % No- 1,071- 47.1 % 9 out of 9 precincts reporting