L.A. County firefighter Joe Peinado responds to a two-alarm commercial… (Francine Orr / Los Angeles…)
Los Angeles County supervisors unanimously approved a tax increase Tuesday that would give their Fire Department an extra $1.5 million in annual revenue.
The 2% increase will raise the fire protection district taxes for a single-family home by about $1 to $62.26 each year. The special service tax is an essential funding component for the department, according to a letter fire officials sent to the board. The department has a $940-million total budget and serves about 4 million residents in the unincorporated parts of the county and various contract cities.
The department is facing a $43-million shortfall next year, mainly because expenses such as retiree benefits and workers' compensation have been rising faster than the revenue the department receives, according to officials.
Last week, several supervisors said they were uneasy raising taxes when the Fire Department had a structural imbalance, but the board approved the increase unanimously Tuesday with little comment.
Supervisors also approved an amendment by Supervisor Gloria Molina that called for a review of the Fire Department's finances and to check that residents in cities that contract with the department are paying as much as residents of unincorporated parts of the county.
The review is supposed to be completed within 90 days.