Financial Outlook

What is the current financial status and outlook for NSCFPD as of early 2024?

If we continue exactly as we are, with the current CAL FIRE staffing, minimal paid District administration staff, no station improvements and no significant support for community resilience and fire prevention programs we can get along for a few more years. Unplanned revenue such as engine rental revenue or grants can help this out but cannot be predicted nor counted upon. Even with no improvements or career firefighter staffing increases, we will eventually require additional funding to support existing CAL FIRE career staff and department operations, due to increasing expenses and anticipated changes in the minimum required CAL FIRE staffing.

Having the volunteer Fire Chief carrying the administrative responsibility is a single point of failure that presents unacceptable risk. It also prevents the District from having the resources to better serve the community, such as provide public safety education, apply for, and manage grants, and support and/or manage vegetation management and other projects promoting safety and resiliency.

Needed Improvements

  • Career Firefighter staffing:
    • Minimum: Increase the number of full-time CAL FIRE staff from 5 to 6, to improve coverage. The current FY23-25 contract allows for the sixth person, but at present there are not sufficient funds to staff the 6th position. Because of anticipated changes in the CAL FIRE union’s required staffing models, moving up to at least six full-time persons will be mandatory in the next CAL FIRE contract (starting FY 25-26).
    • Preferred: standard staffing for a 24/7 engine company is 3 people, not two. To meet standards and better meet the needs of the community the District should increase career CAL FIRE staffing to provide a minimum of 3 people on duty at all times. This would require a minimum of 9 full-time people (and potentially 10, depending on future CAL FIRE state union contract changes).
  • Hire paid staff to manage the majority of administrative and oversight tasks required to take care of the District’s business and legal obligations, and to lead larger time-consuming efforts such as community outreach and education, fire safety and prevention projects, and grant application and management.
  • Long-term we want to complete the North Fire Station by making it a residential station to support24x7 staffing, increase apparatus storage capacity, and provide administrative/office and training space.

Current Revenue Sources

  • Property taxes are the main source of funding for the District. The District does not have any additional parcel taxes or tax assessments.
  • The North Sonoma Coast Volunteer Firefighter Association (a 501(c)(3)) receives donations for maintenance of the North Fire Station and for support as needed for the fire department, usually in the form of equipment, apparatus, clothing, or training. Donations have paid entirely for rescue 4433 and UTV 4441 and are committed to pay for the replacement of aging Assistant Chief vehicle 4401. However, donations are not a reliable source for ongoing salaries and staffing.

Possible Revenue Sources

  • Additional funding from Sonoma County. A request has been submitted for FY24 and FY25 to support one additional CAL FIRE firefighter and some paid administrative staff. The County Administrator and the Board of Supervisor’s Fire Services ad-hoc committee have delayed consideration of the request until after the March 2024 election. This would not be a permanent solution but would help bridge the gap to the potential funding support from the 2024 sales tax to support fire services.
  • If the March 2024 ballot Measure “H” to add a ½ cent sales tax to support fire services passes it would provide sorely needed funds to the District and support the anticipated staffing needs as well as long-term funding to support completion of the North Fire Station.
  • A parcel tax or tax assessment, which would need to be approved by voters in an election. This approach has the advantage, once obtained, of being permanent and entirely under the control of the District. However, getting an additional tax or assessment passed is a heavy lift.
  • Get Sonoma County to more fairly distribute Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Proposition 172 funds that are targeted to fire protection, so that all agencies in the county receive a fair portion. At present, NSCFPD receives support for most of the cost of dispatch services, but starting in FY25 we will receive zero TOT or Proposition 172 funds, even thought the Sea Ranch area alone contributes more than 2 million dollars to TOT each year.
  • It is remotely possible that at some point in the future, the loss of funds to Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) may be fixed. There is no hope of any relief soon. To learn more about this topic see

Serving the communities of The Sea Ranch, Annapolis, and Stewarts Point

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