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Fire Assessment and CFDs

WFS can assist your Fire Agency with new alternative revenue streams

Many Independent Fire Districts, Cities and Counties have seen ad valorem property tax revenues significantly decline in recent years due to substantial reductions in the assessed valuation of property. As a result, fire districts and municipal fire departments have reduced staffing while, at the same time, the demand for services has never been greater. As a means to reduce dependence on ad valorem taxes, new alternative revenue streams can be established for a fire agency through the formation of a Fire Suppression Benefit Assessment (Fire Assessment) or a Community Facilities District (CFD).

These special district revenues are not predicated on the assessed valuation of property, but rather, are based on the service demands placed on the fire agency by different property types, and are structured to cover the actual costs of service. Furthermore, the revenues generated are dedicated to the designated services, and cannot be reduced or redirected by outside agencies. Fire Assessments and CFDs may fund fire protection and suppression services, including firefighter salaries and benefits, and the purchase, operation, and maintenance of apparatus and equipment. In addition, CFDs may also fund paramedic and ambulance services provided by a Fire Agency.

Fire Assessments

Since a fire assessment may only be established by complying with the relevant provisions of Proposition 218, Willdan Financial Services (WFS) has been engaged by numerous independent fire districts and cities to assist with the implementation process.

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Since a fire assessment is based on the special benefit received by the properties served, it must be approved by a majority of the affected property owners within the agency’s service area. As part of the formation of a fire assessment, WFS prepares the Engineer’s Report that establishes the special benefit nexus between fire-related services, and the benefits received by properties that are served. We continually update our Engineer Reports to evolve and stay in compliance with new legislation and recent court decisions. As a result, our Engineer Reports remain technically defensible and provide a sound rationale for establishing an assessment. In addition to developing the assessment methodology and Engineer’s Report,WFS also prepares the Proposition 218 Notice and Protest Ballot, and coordinates the mailing of ballot material. If there is no majority protest to the proposed assessment, it may be formed and implemented.


Although a CFD may be formed to encompass the entire service area of a Fire Agency, CFDs are more typically formed over newly developing areas to mitigate the impact that new development has on the services provided by a Fire Agency.

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The Mello-Roos Act states that if there are less than 12 registered voters within the territory proposed to be included within the CFD, the CFD shall be established by a landowner vote. However, the services funded by a CFD must be in addition to those already provided within the boundary of the proposed CFD. Therefore, a connection must be developed between additional services provided to the area as a result of development, and the special tax rates proposed to be levied through the CFD. WFS recommends that a Fiscal Impact Analysis be completed in order to determine the financial impact new developments place on the services provided by the Fire Agency. Our Fiscal Impact Reports analyze revenue and expenditures on a per capita basis to determine whether the increased service population expected to be generated by new development causes a non-neutral fiscal impact. If the new development causes a negative fiscal impact, the agency may make a policy decision to move forward with the formation of a CFD.