Letters to the Editor Opposing Measure A
Measure A makes no sense
This is not a safety issue. This is a marketing, strategy and tactics issue. The current invitation to revisit the fire tax in this upcoming election is a referendum on everything but safety. I’ve read opinions on both sides of the issue and have spoken with the fire chief, Chief Cowan, to clarify some details regarding the new tax. What I have learned, is the “safety” issues are a list of desired changes, well beyond the standards utilized by most same-sized communities and will increase staffing beyond the required state mandates and regulations. There is a difference between what would be nice to have and what is necessary to ensure citizen safety for our community.
The majority of the calls responded to by the Arcata Fire Department (AFD) are first responder medical calls. Only eight percent of the AFD calls actually involve fires. Yet, what is advocated by the Chief are to staff three (3) people to each truck instead of the current standard of two (2) people. This is for every call regardless of any actual smoke or flames. When I queried the Chief about the ability of the AFD to serve and protect the community if the tax does not pass, he unequivocally assured me that the AFD could, in fact, continue the same level of responsiveness and service to the community if the new tax does NOT pass. Landlords would simply pass this increase on to their tenants, but the rest of us would continue paying more. This new tax would raise what each citizen pays by nearly 100 percent.
Throughout the years, Arcata has been generous and supportive of the AFD. Ten years ago a very large tax increase like this was defeated by the community when it was placed on a major election ballot. It seems the AFD learned that they could get the tax passed when it was placed on a ballot with low voter turnout, under the radar of most in the community. It appears that is a tactic that is being used again now. With two major elections coming up it why isn’t this tax proposal on one of these high voter turnout ballots? The low turnout can’t provide a true indication of the desires of the community.
I also find it troubling that it is the fireman’s union that is marketing and promoting this new permanent tax. Read the fine print on the signs. They are the very persons who are in a position for direct and immediate benefit from this doubling of every property owners tax liability. It may make sense to raise the property tax a small amount at a time or when the economy is more stable, but it makes no sense for the community now. This tax is NOT about safety.
Tell the AFD, as I did, that you whole-heartedly support and appreciate the valuable service they provide, but this huge tax proposal is a mistake.
Measure A is unaffordable
Thank you Scott Baker, Loretta Wilson and Bob Boyd for your excellent letters urging opposition to Measure A.
Our recently received property tax bills reveal a 1997 Arcata Fire Tax of $30, a 2006 Arcata Fire Tax of $132 and now, in 2015, they want another $96. Pattern has it that every nine years, the Arcata Fire Protection District comes forward with another fire assessment proposal. On top of Arcata Fire, we pay $117.33 to Cal Fire, which increases every year, along with three school bonds. It appears, too, that Measure A does not contain a sunset clause, therefore, property owners will be liable forever.
With a history of the Arcata Fire District proposing another tax assessment every nine yars, home ownership will be unaffordable for the majority of local residents and rents will skyrocket.
To review the exorbitant salaries received by the Arcata Fire Department personnel and the number of employees in management positions, please log onto “Arcata Fire Department Salaries in California,” scroll down and click on “All Salaries For Arcata Fire Protection District.” An accounting comes up for the year 2013. Read total pay and benefits, plus job titles. It will knock your socks off.
Make no mistake about it. Measure A is about higher property taxes that will last forever. For those of you who rent, expect a hefty rent increase if Measure A passes. Please, all tenants and property owners, VOTE NO ON MEASURE A because your pocketbook matters!
Wayne and Linda Palmrose