Fire mitigation fee rates increased

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The fire mitigation fee rates paid by developers to fund the cost of fire department facilities serving the new development will increase for Fiscal Year 2018-19.

The fee for non-agricultural construction will increase from 56 cents to 58 cents per square foot and the fee for agricultural buildings without sprinklers was changed from 15 cents to 16 cents per square foot. 

The fee for agricultural buildings with fire sprinkler systems remains at two cents per square foot, and the fee for poultry and greenhouse buildings is still one cent per square foot. 

The fire mitigation fee rates paid by developers to fund the cost of fire department facilities serving the new development will increase for Fiscal Year 2018-19.

The fee for non-agricultural construction will increase from 56 cents to 58 cents per square foot and the fee for agricultural buildings without sprinklers was changed from 15 cents to 16 cents per square foot. 

The fee for agricultural buildings with fire sprinkler systems remains at two cents per square foot, and the fee for poultry and greenhouse buildings is still one cent per square foot. 

A first reading and introduction of the ordinance was approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on a 5-0 vote May 8, and a 4-0 vote May 15 with Kristin Gaspar absent approved the second reading and adoption. 

The supervisors also accepted the Fire Mitigation Fee Review Committee’s annual report and found that the 20 participating fire agencies were in conformance with the County Fire Mitigation Fee Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2016-17.

“It was good to see the board move forward in approving the fire mitigation annual report, and we look forward to continued support of the program,” said San Diego County Fire Authority director Herman Reddick.

The county established the Fire Mitigation Fee Program in 1986 to provide funding for fire protection and emergency medical services in the unincorporated communities.  Although local fire agencies lack the legal authority to impose mitigation fees on new development, the county collects a fee from building permit applicants on behalf of 18 independent fire protection districts and two county service areas with fire protection responsibility. The mitigation fees are distributed quarterly to agency accounts and must be used for capital projects or to purchase fire fighting equipment or supplies which will serve new developments.

The committee consists of two fire chiefs (currently Bill Paskle of the Alpine Fire Protection District and Tony Michel of the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District), one elected director of a fire protection district (currently Ken Munson of the North County Fire Protection District), one County Service Area staff member (currently Susan Quasarano), one San Diego County Fire Authority staff member (currently Kelsey Chesnut), and one representative apiece from the Building Industry Association (currently Matt Adams), the San Diego County Farm Bureau (currently executive director Eric Larson), and the county’s Planning Commission (currently David Pallinger).

The County Fire Mitigation Fee Ordinance allows fee ceilings to be increased or decreased in proportion to changes in the Cost of Construction Index. The ordinance also requires an evaluation of the base fee every five years based upon dividing the average cost in current dollars to construct a fully-equipped fire station within the county’s unincorporated area by the average square footage of structures served by that average fire station.  That result becomes the new base fee and was last adjusted in 2014. 

A 11.05 percent increase in the Cost of Construction Index between October 2014 and October 2017 led to the new fee structure.

The San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District received $155,499.94 of Fire Mitigation Fee Program revenue in Fiscal Year 2016-17. The Lakeside Fire Protection District collected $154,747.22. 

County Service Area No. 115, which covers the area of the former Santee Fire Protection District, which did not become part of the City of Santee, had $543.20 of mitigation fund revenue.

Because the funding is used for capital improvements, it is not required to be spent in a particular fiscal year and funding can be used for debt service payback.

The Fiscal Year 2018-19 planned capital expenditures approved by the Fire Mitigation Fee Review Committee include San Miguel Fire Protection District and Lakeside Fire Protection District debt service payback and a future fire station expansion for CSA No. 115.

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