Roseville repeals 'crash tax'

City Council also forms higher education task force during Wednesday's meeting
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Visitors to Roseville can drive without worrying about getting in an automobile accident now that Roseville City Council repealed the “crash tax.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, the council voted unanimously to eliminate the ordinance, which was implemented in July 2009 to help generate funds for the city’s struggling budget.

“I sat on the council 18 months ago when we approved this tax, and quite frankly, looking back I regret that we did this,” said Councilwoman Carol Garcia.

The tax requires a non-resident to pay the costs of Roseville Fire Department’s response if the driver is in a car wreck within city limits.

The fire department originally recommended this Motor Vehicle Accident Cost Recovery Program, or “crash tax,” assuming most automobile insurance companies had provisions in their policies stipulating payment to fire departments for emergency response and services provided at vehicle accidents, said acting Fire Chief Dean Grundy.

“At the time, based on vendor projections, we anticipated collecting $100,000 annually,” Grundy said. “In 18 months since we started this fee, we’ve collected $40,000 and only $15,000 in the current fiscal year.”

But Mike Rivera, co-founder of Fire Recovery USA, the firm hired to collect the fees, said the figures noted are “not true” and the $100,000 projection was created internally by the city.

“We explained at the time, this forecast was inaccurate,” he said.

Rivera said the projection was based on gross collections — not net collections — and on 408 runs a year, but the city has only submitted 193. He said Roseville also bills at half the normal amount of other California cities.

Based on a correct forecast, the tax was successful, he said, generating $43,000 with 40 runs still in progress, which will bring in more than $6,000.

Councilman Tim Herman said he wasn’t concerned about money, but the extra effort involved in enforcing this ordinance.

Grundy said the tax has caused safety concerns as fire personnel spend more time in busy traffic collecting billing information, and taking additional time at accident scenes leaves firefighters unavailable for other calls.

Councilman John Allard — who is running for 4th Assembly district — had suggested during the Feb. 2 meeting that the council consider repealing the crash tax.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the council also voted unanimously in favor of creating a higher education task force to guide the city in attracting higher education facilities to the area.

The city’s staff report states that higher education opportunities, such as a two-year college or four-year university, are strong economic engines that could generate more than 6,000 jobs and $400 million in total annual economic output.

Here’s a look at some other items approved during the Feb. 16 meeting.

Board of directors appointed to Roseville Community Development Corporation: Ed Benoit, John Norman, Erica Manuel, Mark Lund and Howard Rudd will comprise the five-member board to provide oversight and policy direction in the operation of this recently formed nonprofit organization that acts to implement the city’s revitalization and economic goals.

Removal of transportation commissioner: Neil Pople, a City Council candidate in the November 2010 election, was removed from the commission because his attendance at meetings fell below the required standard. He was given 30 days to request a waiver of the attendance policy but the city said it never received a response.

Councilmember to travel to Washington, DC: Mayor Pauline Roccucci, or another designee, will travel to Washington, DC in March to advocate on behalf of Roseville. The city hopes to obtain several million dollars for water, flood control, transit and revitalization projects through this visit. Specially, the city wants funding for the Washington Andora Widening Project, Aquifer Storage and Recover Expansion, or Waste-to-Energy Biomass project. The trip will cost about $1,600.

Placer County Regional Auto Theft Task Force memorandum of understanding: Roseville Police Department is an active member of this task force, which formed in 2007. The department contributes one full-time detective and his vehicle. Since the task force began, motor vehicle thefts in Roseville have decreased 60 percent, according to the city. Last year, the task force initiated 149 investigations, assisted other agencies with 121 investigations and recovered stolen vehicles with a total value of $398,600.

Sena Christian can be reached at