Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF)
ERAF was created by the state legislature in 1992, with formulas established in 1992-93 and 1993-94 to permanently shift funds from counties, cites, and special districts to ERAF. The state uses this fund to reduce their obligation to the schools.
The movement of funds from taxes originally allocated for other purposes to ERAF is called the ERAF "shift". The ERAF shift from all other special districts or funds is usually no more than about 15%. The ERAF shift from the fire protection tax funds from the 10.5 square miles of The Sea Ranch (the three Tax Rate Areas that cover TSR) is 47%. This results in the loss of approximately $1 million dollars of funds originally allocated for fire protection within the District.
In January of 2017, after much study and research, the District, working with counsel William Ross, filed a Writ of Mandamus against Sonoma County, asserting the the ERAF calculation applied to The Sea Ranch area is not correctly calculated. The process following this suit through the legal system is in progress.
Loss of funds to ERAF is the number one financial challenge to the District. Resolving the issue and reducing the ERAF shift to a fair and appropriate percentage would make the District financial stable for the foreseeable future, with the ability to keep fire apparatus up to date and possibly enhance service.
To read in great depth about this issue and the California property tax system, see this document.