The Ripon Fire District is not run by the city it serves, so it does not get city money.
Instead, it’s financed by a small part of the property tax and a square footage assessment that hasn’t changed in over 30 years.
"So, basically, you could say we’ve not had an increase in income since 1985," said Ripon Fire Chief Dennis Bitters.
While the fire district has three stations built with restricted state funds, it cannot afford to staff them. One station with four firefighters and a supervisor covers 56 square miles and two of them are assigned to its one ambulance, which is frequently out of the station.
"Our staffing’s cut in half during that time," Bitters said. "So now we're down to two people on a fire engine to cover all of that."
It’s no wonder that Measure A was put on the ballot, assessing property owners a $125 tax that raises $1.2 million, enough to staff a second station that now sits unused.
"We believe that's unfair," said Cindy Scheublein, the executive director of Bethany Home.