The Yucaipa City Council met on July 13, and an item on the consent agenda was recommended that city council adopt Resolution No. 2020-32, fixing the special tax for fiscal year 2020/2021 for the Yucaipa Paramedic Program.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 1999/2000, the city assumed the responsibility for the provision of fire protection and paramedic services. Up until that time, those services were provided to the community through a special district of San Bernardino county. As a result of that assumption of responsibility, the city’s fire protection services are funded entirely by revenues generated from property taxes.
The Paramedic Program was always intended to be funded entirely through a Paramedic Special Tax (PST) approved by the voters initially in 1987. The original PST equated to an annual amount equal to $24 per individual dwelling unit and $35 per individual commercial unit.
With escalation of costs and the premise that the program was to be funded entirely by the PST, the voters approved Measure Y which was an increase to the maximum annual PST in 2004 to the current amount off $52 per residential dwelling unit, $78 per small commercial unit, $156 per large commercial unit (>10,000 square feet) and $78 plus $3 per bed over 26 for residential care facility. The 2004 PST was approved by the voters with no escalation clause. As a result, the PST per unit has not increased in 16 years. The total annual revenue is increased only by the number of new units assessed.
In 2004, the assessment amount would be sufficient to cover the estimated and escalating costs of the Paramedic Program for approximately 10 years or through 2014. Fiscal Year 2015/2016 was the first year in which revenues were not sufficient to cover the annual expenses which left an annual deficit.
The annual projected deficit will continue to grow, as the increase in revenues is already not sufficient to cover the ongoing increases in expenditures.
On March 3, voters failed Measure E to levy a general Transactions and Use Tax of one-half percent increasing the total sales tax rate from 7-3/4% to 8-1/4% that would have generated approximately $2 million annually. Funds generated from the one-half percent sales tax would have been deposited and maintained in its own operational Special Revenue Fund with an appointed citizen oversight committee. Measure E was presented to the voters to address the Paramedic Program projected annual deficit of approximately $658,878, increase response times on emergency 911 calls, generate funds from Yucaipa visitors to benefit local residents, enhance police and fire protection, increase local youth and senior services and fund other general services provided throughout the city like streets and parks.
Staff recommends that council set the FY 2020/2021 Special Tax rates at the maximum amounts allowable, consistent with the provisions of Measure Y as follows: residential dwelling unit at $52, small commercial unit at $78, large commercial unit (>10,000 square feet) at $156 and residential care facility at $78 plus $3 per bed over 26.
The Fire and Paramedic Departments set goals to pursue grants for paramedic staffing and related equipment while continuing to work on solutions for city council consideration to address the program deficit. In the FY 2020/2021 paramedic expenditures are expected to exceed related revenues by approximately $551,198. Anticipated salary savings will reduce this projected annual budgeted deficit amount somewhat. Through FY 2015/2016, actual annual revenues had been sufficient to cover actual expenses. In those years when paramedic revenues exceeded paramedics expenses soon after Measure Y passed, those funds were set aside in a paramedic fund balance.
That fund balance has been used to balance the paramedic budget every year since 2015/2016. It has now been depleted and the General Fund is not subsidizing the paramedic budget. Consequently, the city council authorized an allocation in the amount of $706,515 from the Fire Services Fund Balance in FY 2020/2021 adopted budget to cover any actual deficit in FY 2020/2021, if necessary.
Councilmember Greg Bogh motioned to move for approval of this item. Councilmember Bobby Duncan seconded and it passed 5-0.
Supporting documents are available for public view on the city of Yucaipa website at yucaipa.org.