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California City Council Approves Paramedic Tax Increase

The San Rafael City Council on Monday unanimously approved putting an ordinance before voters in November that would raise a tax for paramedic services by 27 percent over four years.

A working group of San Rafael and Marinwood officials have proposed raising the existing voter-approved paramedic tax to $108 a year for residences and 14 cents per square foot for commercial properties over a four-year period.

The current paramedic tax is capped at $85 for dwellings and 11 cents per square foot for commercial buildings.

"I believe this measure will rise or fall depending on whether or not we have opposition from (Marin United Taxpayers Association)," Councilman Greg Brockbank said before the vote.

Mayor Al Boro said he recently met with people who worked on the paramedic tax campaign four years ago, and those organizers were enthusiastic about campaigning again.

Between July 10 and 14, San Mateo-based Godbe Research conducted a telephone poll of 300 San Rafael residents and 100 voters in surrounding special districts who would also need to approve the hike. Seventy percent of the San Rafael voters and 75 percent of voters from special districts said they would either definitely or probably vote for the tax increase, which proponents say would improve emergency response times in northern San Rafael and Marinwood.

The margin of error was 5.6 percent for San Rafael and 9.7 percent for the other areas, pollster Bryan Godbe said at Monday's meeting. For the ordinance to go into effect, two-thirds of voters will need to approve it on Nov. 2.

"We have a bit of an uphill struggle given the economy," Godbe said, noting that if there isn't a strong organized campaign for the ordinance, officials should probably request an $18 increase rather than a $23 increase.

"The caveat, and really the Catch-22 here, is there has to be the same kind of campaign effort (as four years ago)," he said. "If not, then we don't have that cushion."



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