With a so much attention on the Measure I fire tax, some odd rumors and misconceptions are circulating. One of the most far out is that Fire Chief Willis already earns $400,000 a year and is due for more.

Says Dawn Marschinke, P.I.O. (Public Information Officer) for Big Bear Fire: “Jeff actually makes between $184,000, and $186,00 yearly from Big Bear. He will occasionally receive an additional payment from other Fire agencies in Northern California after he has helped out there, but nothing approaching $400K.”

Others are alarmed that home bedrooms may be taxed at $78 each. “Actually, that only applies to motel and hotel bedrooms,” says Marschinke.

While homeowners must pony up 6 cents per square foot, the two ski lifts will see a tax bite of $750,000. This is a rare case of visitors fully sharing the burden. Additionally, if the fire tax becomes a burden on disabled people or low-income seniors, an exemption is available.

Big Bear Fire requested the additional funds because, with a greater number of medical emergencies being reported, fire staff can be delayed. In 2019, there were 138 times when the department could not answer the next emergency service call because no more staff were available. Given approval of Measure I, the fire department will be able keep all stations open and hire twelve more firefighter/paramedics, according to PIO Marschinke.

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