The Fire Tax is the only tax Belvedere levies on its residents above and beyond the 1% property tax mandated by Prop 13 (of which it receives just 20.7%).
The Fire Tax was introduced in 1980 as an evergreen, flat-rate parcel tax to fund the transition from a volunteer Fire Department to a contract for service with Tiburon Protection Fire District (TFPD), which provides fire and ambulatory service.
When the Fire Tax was introduced, it covered the full contract cost. Over the years, the increase in the contract cost has outpaced the growth in Fire Tax revenues, which are indexed to inflation plus population changes. Today, the Fire Tax covers just half the contract cost. The City's General Fund picks up the difference, crowding out other spending.
During the summer of 2023, the City's Finance Committee studied options for introducing a supplemental Fire Tax to stabilize the budget, including a survey of local voters to evaluate potential support for a new tax. Support fell significantly short of the 66.7% supermajority threshold required to pass.
The City continues to study the discrepancy between the existing Fire Tax and the cost of providing fire and ambulatory service, and to look for potential remedies.