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Two council members oppose Atherton's split from fire district

Original post made on Mar 10, 2020

Although two council members have now come out against the idea of the town of Atherton separating from the local fire district, the City Council majority appears to be intent on pursuing the controversial move.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 8:26 AM

Comments (5)

Posted by Observer II
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 10, 2020 at 10:18 am

As I read and learn more about the issue of Atherton's desire to DETACH themselves from the Fire District, the more I'm convinced that this is a CRAZY idea. First, to detach requires a San Mateo County group called LAFCO to approve it. They are NOT likely to do so, which has been repeatedly stated by several knowledgeable people.

Next, the Atherton City Council keeps talking about BASIC fire and medical emergency services- at a lower cost. That may be so, however, a fire department provides much more service than what the public may see day to day. What happens in a DISASTER. Does Atherton want to be unprotected? Will one or two FIRE STATIONS replace the current FIVE fire stations now serving the Town? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude to leave things alone.

Posted by bradstreet22
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 10, 2020 at 12:31 pm

"Penny wise, Pound foolish".

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 10, 2020 at 12:58 pm

" some people associated with the Fire Board continue to falsely insist that Atherton is somehow trying to take tax dollars from the Fire District."

Wow - the whole point of the Town's effort is to do EXACTLY that - take tax dollars from the Fire District. There is nothing false about that claim.

Posted by Just the Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 10, 2020 at 2:47 pm

A very important fact seems to get lost in the detachment discussion, Atherton does not pay a penny to the Fire District. San Mateo County assesses Atherton homeowners a tax on their property each year according to a process established by Prop 13 more than 40 years ago. The county then distributes collected property taxes to fund its own operations and those of a variety of special districts, including the fire district, according to formulas put in place soon after the passage of Prop 13. A few Atherton Town council members cannot change the distribution formula. So, other than highlight the unfounded claim Atherton pays for more services than it receives from the fire district, what is to be gained by this detachment effort? Why isn’t Atherton going after money from the largest recipient of property tax dollars, the school districts within its borders? Surely property taxes collected on Atherton homes pay for more education services than are consumed by Atherton residents. Why is revenue from the fire district considered low hanging fruit, and not school districts? Isn’t Atherton a tax donor in virtually any tax/spend scenario you care to evaluate?
Atherton residents enjoy a high level of service from the Menlo fire district and help support the same services for the communities where they shop, recreate, and work. Time to drop this misguided, mean spirited effort to detach from the fire district. I plan to attend one of the upcoming public events on March 24, or April 1 to voice my opposition to detachment and so should you.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 10, 2020 at 5:17 pm

So there is no confusion this is what the Town states it wants to do:

"Options that the Town is considering include detachment from the Fire District prompting a
redistribution of the property tax allocations and allowing the Town to contract directly for the provision
of fire services at a fee more in line with expected costs; and/or a State legislative measure to redistribute
property taxes allocations set under Proposition 13 and AB 8."

There is nothing false about stating that "Atherton is somehow trying to take tax dollars from the Fire District."

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