Owners of multistory buildings in the downtown area of the city will decide in a special election this month whether to approve a new tax to pay for special equipment to fight fires in tall buildings.
The proposed tax, which would be added to annual property tax bills, is 16 cents per square foot for buildings three stories or higher, excluding parking structures.
The fee would be implemented gradually over a four-year period and does not affect single-family homeowners.
Fire Chief Allen (Bud) Carter said the money raised by the tax would go toward:
* The purchase of two new aerial firetrucks.
* The construction of a fire training facility.
* The expansion and reconfiguration of some existing fire stations so they will be able to house aerial firetrucks.
* The addition of two new engine companies beginning in 1999.
"As the dollars get tighter and tighter, we are all attempting to try and find a way of funding all kinds of services that people want and expect," Carter said.
"We've been lucky that we've been able to take care of our taller buildings up until now. But when you get over 35 feet high, you have to have some specialized equipment."
The buildings that would be affected by the tax are located within the boundaries of a 300-acre area that would include the Main Street corridor from 1st Street to MainPlace, the 1st Street-Tustin Avenue area, the Pacific Center area and the South Main area. It is here that much of the city's new commercial development is taking place.
The election, which involves 104 building owners, will be conducted by mail.
The city clerk's office began mailing out election ballots last week and they must be returned by mail or in person by 5 p.m. on May 31.