In October 2018, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved an expansion of Service Zone FP-5. The Fire Department was facing a $29 million budget deficit.

FP-5 assesses a fee of $157.26 on properties within the unincorporated areas of the county served by the county Fire Department. In 2019, the board of supervisors voted down a 3 percent increase in the annual fee and directed staff to look for alternative funding mechanisms, specifically for the expansion area. One of the alternatives is forming a community facilities district, which is what Measure I in Big Bear would do if passed on March 3.

A presentation to the board of supervisors in November 2019, showed the Mountain Zone for San Bernardino County Fire budget at $19.4 million with the FP-5 funding. Without it, the budget is $13.4 million. The loss of FP-5 funding for the Mountain Zone would reduce staffing from 54 to

36 positions.

Big Bear Fire Department’s annual budget is $14 million. Measure I would increase the annual budget to approximately $17 million.

Big Bear Fire Chief Willis said when Big Bear Fire began exploring the costs and options, a comparison with the Fawnskin station, which is a San Bernardino County Fire station, showed the costs to operate are the same no matter who is the provider. The cost for a three-person station in the county and Big Bear Fire is estimated at approximately $2 million.

Measure I, if approved by voters in Big Bear, would create a community facilities district assessing improved properties 6 cents per square foot annually. The assessment would apply to residential and commercial properties.

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