With the fate of Canyon Lake's only fire station hanging in the balance following Tuesday's election, Lake Elsinore's elected officials are warning that their constituents shouldn't be on the hook for a neighbor's fire protection services.
Statements were released today by Lake Elsinore Mayor Bob Magee and Lake Elsinore Councilman Brian Tisdale following what appears to be the defeat of Measure D in Canyon Lake.
The initiative asked Canyon Lake voters if they were willing to pay a special property tax to keep that city's only fire station open. Without passage of Measure D, Station 60 could close as early as Dec. 5, 2013, and the cities of Lake Elsinore and Menifee are worried they will have to provide fire protection for the gated, upscale community of Canyon Lake.
With all precincts counted, 50.85 percent or 1,139 of Canyon Lake's registered voters who cast ballots Tuesday voted "no" on Measure D.
There is still wiggle room, however. Rebecca Spencer, assistant registrar for the county, said 75 provisional ballots from Canyon Lake must still be processed. How many of those are valid remains to be determined, but Spencer admitted the Canyon Lake count will likely be impacted.
Countywide, there are also 3,000 vote-by-mail and 100 damaged ballots that must be processed, although Spencer could not say how many of those might be from Canyon Lake. By Friday evening, it's expected all the vote-by-mail and damaged ballots will be processed; Spencer expects the provisional ballots to take a bit longer.
Still, early indications point to failure for Measure D, and that has Lake Elsinore officials on edge.
“It is very unfortunate that the citizens of Canyon Lake have voted not to pass this important public safety measure for their community," Mayor Magee said. "In Lake Elsinore, public safety is our number one priority. In just the last decade, we have built and opened three fire stations to provide our residents with the best fire and emergency services possible. Moving forward, we must ensure our residents’ tax dollars are not used to subsidize fire protection services for other communities and that we can continue to provide our residents the highest level of service.”
In the City of Lake Elsinore, most residents pay up to $450 in property tax assessments each year to fund public safety within the community, according to Nicole Dailey, spokeswoman for the city. Currently, Lake Elsinore has four operational fire stations within its city limits.
During the Nov. 12 Lake Elsinore City Council meeting, there will be discussion about how the city can work with its regional partners to ensure fire and emergency services are fairly provided and funded throughout the region, Dailey said.
Councilman Tisdale, who led the charge to open Rosetta Canyon's Station 97 in Lake Elsinore this year, sounded optimistic that a fair solution can be worked out to ensure his constituents don't foot the bill for Canyon Lake's fire protection services.
“In our community, public safety comes first," he said. "We vow to work closely with local officials to ensure the region, and its residents, continue receiving the highest level of fire and emergency services. Together, I am confident we can come up with a plan that is fair and responsive to the needs of our region.”
The only other initiative on the ballot for Canyon Lake was Measure E, which shows no hope of passing even with the outstanding provisional, vote-by-mail and damaged ballots. The measure asked city residents if an area of Canyon Lake commonly known as Goetz Hill should be graded for retail development. With all precincts counted, just 543 or 24.32 percent of voters cast a "yes" vote, while 1,690 or 75.68 percent voted "no."