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Bethany would support future fire services tax that is fair & equitable
letter to editor

 Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
In a column on May 18, Jason Campbell was right about a couple of things:  The size of the overflow crowd, and that this measure struck a chord with the community!
He is wrong however, in questioning that Bethany Home would have supported the tax at all, regardless of the disproportionate original proposal that has since been relaxed.  He got this feeling from listening to the executive director and board president field questions about how Ripon Consolidated Fire District’s Measure A tax on the June 5 ballot would adversely affect their residents.
Parcel taxes as stated in the law may not be based on Property Value or Use!  In order to get around this issue, the consultant came up with the idea to declassify Bethany Home as commercial property; creating a brand new classification for the only Skilled Nursing, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Independent Living Retirement Community within the district.  Because Bethany Home according to Chief Dennis Bitters accounted for 17% of the emergency calls, the citizens committee and Fire District board wanted Bethany Home to pay their fair share of usage.  Hence, the tax was levied not as commercial property @.065 per square foot which had been the case.  Now the tax was going to be based on every single room in the Skilled Nursing Facility, Assisted Living Facility and Memory Care Unit in addition to the Independent Living units @ $250 each!  This resulted in an additional tax of $72,500 on top of the $14,430 (being paid currently) for a total of $86,930, which represents a 600% increase to Bethany Home and its residents.  Had Bethany Home remained as commercial property, which it clearly is, providing health care for seniors, the resulting tax under Measure A would have resulted in an additional tax of $14,500 or an approximately 100% increase.  That, Bethany would have supported as being Fair and Equitable!  Not the 600% increase disguised as a parcel tax and not even the 300% increase, two board members offered to take up with the full board after the election.
When the executive director and board president met with Chief Bitters, I stated that my fire tax was going from $130 to $255 representing a 96% increase.  If the Fire District would double the fire tax on Bethany Home we stated that “That is something we would support.”  Their answer by one of the board members was “We can’t have a few ruling the rest of us!”  It was at the point we thanked them for their time and consideration.  On May 1 we delivered the letter to Chief Bitter’s office that was read at the Town Hall meeting, stating that due to their “cool response” to our good faith offer, we have no alternative but to oppose Measure A.
In the future, Bethany Home will strongly consider supporting a measure for additional fire tax, one that is fair and equitable.

Henry Meester
Bethany Home Society
Board President