SLO County clerk to recount Oceano fire tax vote

The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office will conduct a recount of ballots  cast for and against the Oceano fire tax initiative, which narrowly failed to pass.

Measure A-20 was supported by 66.12 percent of voters, while 33.88 percent voted against it, according to the official tally released last week. A two-thirds vote, or 66.7 percent, was needed for the initiative to pass.

Following the final tally, the Oceano 911 Committee for Measure A-20, a group supporting the tax initiative, requested the clerk-recorder’s office conduct a recount.

A recount will take an estimated time of two days at a cost $808 per day, according to SLO County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong. The Oceano 911 Committee for Measure A-20 says it plans to pay for the recount with funds raised by its volunteers.

If Measure A-20 were to pass upon a recount, it would add $15 a month to property tax bills in Oceano and would raise an estimated $422,000 annually. If the final tally holds, it is likely Oceano will leave the fire authority, and San Luis Obispo County will take over providing fire services to the community. 

Since 2010, the Oceano Community Services District has been served by the Five Cities Fire Authority through a joint powers agreement with the cities of Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach. Over the past decade, the fire authority has experienced financial challenges.

Recently, the fire authority closed its Oceano station several times because of a lack of funding and subsequent staffing shortages. 

Three Oceano district board members claimed if the tax did not pass, there would be a reduction in emergency services. Critics argue the county can do a better job at providing fire services.