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Published September 1st, 2021
Letters to the Editor

Clearing up the MOFD Parcel Tax

Nick Warranoff (and probably most of Orinda and Moraga, including members of the MOFD Board) have a misunderstanding of the purpose of the MOFD Parcel Tax (called a "fireflow" tax).
This is simply a "top up" tax to cover expenses in excess of the basic funding provided by the property tax allocation set in 1978 when Prop 13 fixed the property tax rate at 1% and set the allocation of that tax to the agencies funded by the tax from schools to cities to fire departments.
In 1992 the residents of Moraga feared that the property tax funding their fire department was insufficient to pay for the premium services they desired including paramedic firefighters and a dedicated paramedic ambulance. So, they voted in a parcel tax that would bring in up to $2.1 million, almost equal to what the basic property tax allocation was providing at that time. In 1992 only 20% of the approved tax was needed. That has never been increased.
Since MOFD was formed in 1997, Moraga's basic property taxes going to MOFD have increased by 200% to $9.6 million. But MOFD's expenses have increased by 265%. To cover this increase, Moraga's "top up" tax should have increased by $2-3 million, more than the Moraga voters agreed to back in 1992. Instead, it has not increased at all.
So where is MOFD getting its money? From Orinda property owners whose basic property taxes have increased by 300% since 1997 when MOFD was formed. Today, $19 million of Orinda property taxes are going to MOFD. It costs MOFD about $16 million to staff and operate Orinda's three stations, including administrative overhead. The remaining $3 million is covering Moraga's underfunding. This should be going to additional services in Orinda, namely fire prevention efforts.
People like Mr. Warranoff, the MOFD Board, and the leaders in Orinda are playing with our safety by not demanding that Moraga pay its fair share of MOFD operating expenses. In 1992 Moraga voters agreed to pay what was necessary to obtain premium service. What has changed?

Steve Cohn

Environmental Concerns

Any of us who follow the news (and look at our skies) realize that we have moved from a state of Climate Change to a state of Climate Emergency. The issues can be overwhelming and, as individuals, it can be difficult not to feel paralyzed and powerless in the face of what is happening. This being acknowledged, there are personal decisions that many of us can make to try to alleviate some of the worst of what we may end up experiencing and to contribute to a healthier, more balanced planet. The four main efforts that have the most impact are to drive much less, to fly much less, to minimize eating meat, and to consider whether we should have children. Other actions we can take include using less energy and water, electrifying and solar-powering our homes, purchasing less, donating to environmental groups, divesting from fossil fuel investments, voting for candidates who prioritize the environment and getting involved in local climate organizations, which can be very effective in terms of influencing policy and affecting change. We all have an obligation and an opportunity to contribute to the greater good of this one amazing planet that we call home. I hope we all make this effort - individually and collectively we can make a difference in what our future will look like. Not making this effort does not seem like an acceptable alternative, given the gravity of our situation.

Lindy Novak

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