The Rodeo-Hercules Fire District is proposing new property assessments to raise almost $1 million a year to beef up fire protection and emergency medical response as well as reopen a shuttered fire station.
Single-family houses would pay $82 a year while condos and apartments would be charged $46.93. Stores would pay $60.30 per one-fifth acre.
Industrial properties would pay varying rates, based on their fire risk and the replacement cost of structures.
The levy, technically a benefit assessment under state law, is subject to majority approval with each owner's ballot weighted according to property type. It would come on top of two existing benefit assessments, of $59 and $52 per single-family house, that bring in a total of $1.34 million a year.
Ballots were mailed to property owners in late March and must be returned by May 14, the same day the district board will hold a public hearing.
The Phillips 66 petroleum refinery would pay approximately $45,500 a year for 29 parcels it owns in the district, according to a preliminary estimate by SCI Consulting Group of Fairfield. In addition to its Rodeo refinery, Phillips owns a coke plant along Highway 4 outside Hercules as well as vacant land and other buffer properties, including a ranch.
The $45,500 in benefit assessments on Phillips 66 property would be far less than what the refinery stood to pay under two school parcel tax measures that it campaigned against in 2010 and 2011. Both measures failed.
Refinery spokesman Mark Hughes could not say what stance the company would take toward the proposed tax, even as he praised the fire district.
"At the present time our business analysis group is researching the impacts the tax measure will have upon our Rodeo Refinery," Hughes said in an email Wednesday. "We greatly appreciate the fire protection services provided to the community by our local fire district, and we consider them a valued community partner."
There are about 11,500 parcels in the fire district, which covers 32 square miles and encompasses the city of Hercules and the unincorporated town of Rodeo.
The current fiscal year budget is $5.05 million. The district employs 12 firefighters plus the fire chief, battalion chief and administrative services officer.
There are two fire stations, one in Hercules and the other in Rodeo. The latter has been shuttered since May 2012.
A $2.48 million federal grant, to be spread over two years, will enable the district to hire seven firefighters and reopen the Rodeo fire station, but the district needs a funding source to keep the station open beyond the grant period.
The proposed tax has no sunset clause, but it would need to be reauthorized annually by the fire district board. Annual adjustments for inflation would be capped at 4 percent.
Phillips 66 stood to pay $700,000 a year under a 2010 parcel tax measure that would have raised $1.7 million a year for four years for the John Swett Unified School District, with residential parcels paying $96 a year.
The refinery would have paid about $400,000 a year under another school district measure in 2011 that was supposed to raise $990,000 a year and tax most residential parcels $60 a year for four years.
The John Swett school district encompasses Rodeo, Crockett, Port Costa, Tormey, Franklin Canyon and the Foxboro section of Hercules.
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at twitter.com/tomlochner.