Jessica Cejnar / Tuesday, June 29, 2021 @ 4:55 p.m.
Recount of Crescent Fire Protection District Ballots Narrowly Favor Proposed Benefit Assessment; Results go to Directors for Certification July 12
A second tabulation of ballots following a miscount showed that the Crescent Fire Protection District eked out a narrow victory in its most recent effort to pass a benefit assessment.
The results were flipped from the previous count with the benefit assessment effort claiming a victory of $17.80 over those that voted against it, Fire Chief Bill Gillespie told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Tuesday. However, the results are preliminary and will be taken to the Crescent Fire Protection Board of Directors for certification on July 12, he said.
“With this assessment, it’s not based on yes or no ballots, but it’s based on ballot value,” Gillespie said, adding that the results are tabulated based on the assessed value of each of the different property classes in the district whether it’s residential, commercial, multi-family or mobile home. “The yes ballot came out as $72,503.80 and the no value against it, or the protest on the assessment, was $72,486 even.”
The Crescent Fire Protection District on June 17 called for a recount of the ballots in its benefit assessment effort after one with a yes vote was accidentally sorted into a pile of ballots that opposed the assessment.
That tabulation, which ended June 15, was also close, showing the proposed assessment failing by $19.20, according to the Crescent Fire Protection District’s staff report. The results were a no ballet value of $72,367.60 over a yes ballot value of $72,348.40.
On June 17, Del Norte County Clerk Alissia Northrup, whose office led both counts in view of members of the public, told the fire protection district board that all 1,734 ballots were “good ballots.” She said the miscount was due to human error.
The Crescent Fire Protection District Board of Directors called for a recount amid threats of lawsuits and recalls, with its chairman, Jim Nelson, saying “we are by no means blaming anyone for the miscount.”
If the Crescent Fire Protection District Board certifies the results on July 12, district staff will work with the county assessors office to add the new $74 assessment to property valuations, Gillespie said.
In the case of a single-family residential property, the new assessment will be added to a $24 assessment from 1987 for a total cost of about $98 per year, or roughly $8.17 per month, Gillespie said. The new assessment replaces a 2006 assessment that sunsets at the end of the year, according to Gillespie.
“We may be able to see this start to be applied for the December timeframe,” he told the Outpost. “Sometime in the spring, potentially, the district would start to see revenue coming from this.”
This is the Crescent Fire Protection District’s second attempt to get property owners to approve a benefit assessment. A previous effort last fall failed by 23 votes, according to Gillespie.