Frequently Asked Questions
Destructive wildfires have already hit our region hard, and we know that there are likely more to come. With 92% of Nevada County households located in high and very high fire severity zones, residents have asked for community-wide solutions to better protect their families, homes, and businesses.
After consulting with first responders, key stakeholders, and concerned citizens, County staff developed a proposal for a locally controlled revenue measure that could fund wildfire prevention, emergency services, disaster readiness, and other general services.
If passed by the voters, Measure V would establish a ½ cent countywide general sales tax that would generate approximately $12 million annually to address ongoing natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, droughts, snowstorms, and other extreme weather events.
All revenue would be locally controlled and would be subject to independent citizen oversight, financial audits, and reports to the public. The general sales tax would apply to both residents and visitors. It would add 50 cents to a $100 purchase, and sales tax is not applied to food purchased as groceries or prescription medications. Measure V would expire after 10 years.
What are Measure V’s priorities?
The purpose of Measure V is to respond to community priorities to keep our community safe such as:
- Removing Flammable Brush: Help prevent wildfires by removing flammable brush countywide from along our roads, in our neighborhoods, around our cities and town, and near critical public infrastructure.
- Improving Evacuation Routes: Improve evacuation routes to get residents out safely and get first responders in quickly during an emergency.
- Enhancing Emergency Communications: Enhance early warning and 911 response to quickly notify residents during a disaster.
- Enforcing Fire Safety Laws: Help law enforcement ensure our parks, forests, trails, and other public areas are monitored to prevent wildfires and are safe and secure for everyone.
- Helping low-income seniors and people with disabilities: Assist with preparedness, evacuation planning, defensible space, and home hardening.
- Providing Green Waste Disposal options: Create chipping programs, free green waste sites, and burn pile training.
How could Measure V help homeowners?
After last winter’s storm, residents loaded their pickups and trailers and delivered 3,373 tons of fallen tree limbs and debris to the County’s free green waste drop-off sites in east and west county. Residents did most of the hard work; the County disposed of the green waste.
This model of community/County collaboration inspires Measure V. To support residents’ hard work and commitment to managing their property, the County intends to use Measure V funds to create free, year-round drop off sites for green waste and other neighborhood-serving projects.
Other projects include purchasing more chippers, expanding defensible space advisory programs for homeowners, providing “Neighborhood Protection” grants to Firewise Communities, and making micro-grants available to eligible low-income seniors and persons with disabilities to improve defensible space around their homes.
How could Measure V benefit Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Truckee residents?
Funds from the measure are intended to serve the entire County, both its unincorporated and incorporated parts, because wildfires and other disasters don’t care about jurisdictional boundaries.
Measure V funds would be pledged to the cities and town to support fuels reduction projects, defensible space programs, and other eligible uses within city and town limits.
How will Measure V projects be selected?
If Measure V is passed by voters, the County would establish separate eastern and western Technical Advisory Committees (TAC), comprised of multi-disciplinary subject matter experts, and staffed by the County Office of Emergency Services (OES). The TACs will recommend funding priorities, subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors, as part of the County’s annual budget cycle.
The TAC membership would include city and town managers, fire and law enforcement representatives, senior county staff, and nonprofit and community leaders.
TAC recommendations would be based on expertise, adherence to approved countywide, regional, or local plans, tactical needs arising from emergencies, and a commitment to cooperation and collaboration.
How will Measure V funds be monitored?
To ensure accountability and transparency, the Board of Supervisors would appoint a Citizens Oversight Committee consisting of seven community volunteers. Each Supervisor would appoint one member from their district, with the entire Board appointing the two at-large members.
The Citizens Oversight Committee’s roles and responsibilities would include reporting on the receipt of sales tax, on the allocations of funds per the expenditure plan, and findings of independent annual audits.
The County would set up a dedicated website to post contracting opportunities, awarded contracts, and annual audited reports to ensure maximum transparency.
How will Measure V funds be accounted for and not simply absorbed into the general fund?
A system of checks and balances will assure accountability and transparency.
- Measure V revenue and expenses would be recorded in the accounting system in separate accounts within the general fund distinct from other revenues and expenses to allow for clear tracking and reporting across all County departments and programs. Unspent revenue would be tracked annually and added to cumulative balances that will be clearly delineated from other County funds. Measure V funds would also be subject to the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (audit) performed annually by an independent auditor and published online.
- The Citizens Oversight Committee would report annually to the Board of Supervisors and the public on the receipt and expenditures of Measure V revenue, review revenue and expenditures for conformity to the text of the measure and report any inconsistencies.
- Contracts over $50,000 would go to the Board for approval.
- The County would have a dedicated webpage where every contracting opportunity, every awarded contract, and every report will be posted in one place.
Can’t this work be funded by state and federal grants?
Over the past four years, the County has been awarded over $10 million in state and federal grants to fund key projects. But raising an average of $2.5 million per year is simply not enough to do the major work that is required to meet the community’s needs.
In fact, local experts estimate we need at least $10 to $36 million annually to implement key projects.
Measure V funding would also make the County eligible for more state and federal funds. For example, for every $1 million the County commits to match, we can secure $3 million in FEMA funding. Leveraging these funds will allow the County to do large-scale projects that are critical defenses to protect our neighborhoods.
Why is the County trying to raise our taxes?
The County does not have the authority to raise taxes. The Board of Supervisors can place a measure on the ballot, but only voters can determine if it’s approved.
Why is Measure V a general sales tax and not a special purpose tax?
Measure V would provide general fund monies that can be used for critical emergency services and other needs in the County.
Measure V is a general tax, rather than a special (or specific tax), because the County recognizes that we must take a flexible, all-hazards approach to emergency planning and prevention that is responsive to immediate public safety needs such as wildfires and major snowstorms.
A flexible, all-hazards approach engages law enforcement and first responders, public works and private contractors, and social services and community-based organizations in a community-wide effort to improve our emergency services, disaster readiness, and response and recovery.
Will Measure V help our local fire departments?
The County respects the incredible work our nine local fire districts do to keep us safe.
While the County does not provide fire suppression services, Measure V funds can help create safer environments for firefighters when they respond to a wildfire.
Measure V funds would be used to create defensible space along evacuation routes, around neighborhoods, and away from critical infrastructure. Landscape-scale shaded fuel breaks like Ponderosa create safer conditions for emergency personnel working in areas that are more hazardous due to topography, fuel load, and wind. Reducing the amount of flammable brush in our community protects firefighters.
Local fire departments and other first responders will be represented on the Technical Advisory Committees where they will help develop updated emergency plans and work to implement them using measure funds.
How will the County ensure that Measure V funds are awarded to qualified contractors?
The County is committed to being good stewards of public funds, including following purchasing policies which require multiple County contract reviewers to ensure best pricing. The County solicits bids for projects through the Request for Proposals (RFP) process which ensures we contract only with qualified vendors in good standing.
Measure V funds will be entirely managed by the County through the annual budget approval process, which includes detailed multi-department and public review, and approval by the Board of Supervisors.
RFPs, contracts, and other expenditure details will be published on a dedicated County webpage to ensure transparency and accountability.
Will Measure V funds be used to pay for County administrators’ salaries and pensions?
Measure V funds would be used for staff time to directly implement measure-funded projects and programs (read “boots on the ground”). Qualified staff will manage fuel reduction projects, operate green waste facilities, and complete evacuation route improvement projects, and other measure-funded initiatives.
Measure funds would not be used to cover County overhead expenses or senior administrator salaries and benefits.