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County allocates funds to aid 19 fire districts
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Escalon, Farmington and Collegeville fire departments are all in line for some funding, based on recent action by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

At a mid-May meeting, the board members voted to increase funding for local fire districts by $1.1 million annually to cover approximately a quarter of the funding they have lost because of the Proposition 172 Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds (ERAF) shift since 1993. The funds will be distributed between the 19 districts within the county that are currently impacted by Prop 172 funding shifts.

“The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors proudly supports our local fire districts,” commented Chairman Miguel Villapudua. “Our residents rely on fire departments for life-saving assistance, and our Board wants to ensure that they are staffed and have the equipment they need to provide top level service to our communities.”

After multiple meetings between the County and the Fire Chiefs Executive Board, the County Administrator prepared two options for Board consideration that would provide the Fire Districts impacted by the ERAF shift with a General Fund allocation equal to 1.0 percent or 0.5 percent of the projected 2023-2024 Proposition 172 revenue. The Board opted to fund an additional one percent or $1,130,621 to Fire Districts.

Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District is slated to receive $14,472 in funding, accounting for 1.28 percent of the ERAF shift. Farmington Fire Department will receive $13,681 for a 1.21 percent ERAF shift and Collegeville is scheduled to receive $2,148 in funding, for a 0.19 percent ERAF shift.

“Our local fire departments provide vital services in our communities, and the Board wants to ensure that they are properly funded to provide our residents with essential fire services,” commented Supervisor Robert Rickman, who represents the Fifth District, which includes Escalon. “Public safety is the top priority of this Board, and I appreciate the work of the Fire Chiefs and County Administrator coming together to benefit our communities.”

In 1993, Proposition 172 established a permanent statewide half-cent sales tax to provide funding for qualifying public safety programs. The purpose was to partially replace the property taxes that were shifted from local agencies to local school districts as part of the 1993-1994 State budget agreement. The revenue shifted was called Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds (ERAF). In 2023-2024, the half-cent sales tax is estimated to backfill approximately $113.1 million of the $206.6 million loss to the county. After Board direction during the 2022-2023 Proposed Budget Hearings, Supervisor Rickman, County Administrator’s Office staff, and the Fire Chiefs Executive Board met periodically to explore a plan by which the Fire Districts that were impacted by the ERAF shift could receive an allocation of funds related to Proposition 172 revenue received by the county, which resulted in the options presented and the ultimate decision on the funding plan approved by the board.