The primary role of government, whether national, state or local, is to protect its citizens and enforce the law. As such, fire and police protection should be the ‘first’ priority of our county’s discretionary funds. Without safety and protection nothing else matters.
But first means “first.” Spending on fire and crime protection should not be subordinate to increasing county workers’ salaries and pensions by millions over the past two years, and not subordinate to other county spending projects such as the proposed spending of over $1 million on a Madera County monument sign off Highway 41 - $311,000 to help finance an off highway vehicle park or leasing this property and opening up the county for massive liability suits - or $185,000 to hire a consultant to tell Madera taxpayers they need to accept Measure L - or more than $100,000 for a special March 7 election and other frivolous discretionary spending.
I recently received my 70 page County Voter Information Guide for the March 7 special election. The June 7 voter guide I received only had 60 pages and covered multiple propositions, a whole slew of candidates and Measure C, the $485 million bond for State Center Colleges. Measure C will generate more than double the projected $164 million from this sales tax, and yet got 1/3 the coverage of Measure L. This voter guide read like a propaganda piece in favor of Measure L, and in my opinion, a form of electioneering, and a complete waste of $100,000 of taxpayer money.
ISO Fears: The major reason the ISO rates increased in 2015 for some property owners was because the Madera County Fire Department didn’t provide ISO with the requested information by the cutoff date (Ref: Madera County Fire Marshal Deborah Keenan before board of supervisors in April of 2015). Now that those have been filed, the county’s ISO rates will adjust downward. Madera County cannot guarantee property insurance rates will decrease if Measure L passes.
There is no guarantee this tax will lower property insurance rates, and this was a fear mongering move. In all the presentations I’ve attended we were constantly being told this would decrease ISO ratings and also reduce property insurance rates. Pay now or pay later was the mantra. This is a false narrative.
Government can never tax its way out of a problem. Giving more tax to bureaucrats is like giving drugs to an addict.
If Measure L passes it will only fund 25% of what the county firefighters need to fully man all fire stations. Pennies per day add up to massive debt. Next will come another scheme to take more of your money.
Higher taxes discourage people from moving or doing business in an area. People vote with their feet and wallets. According to the current statewide sales tax rates in California, if Madera County passes a 1% sales tax increase, the county sales tax in unincorporated areas will be 8.75%. That would be one of the highest in the state - higher than San Francisco or the Central Coast. And Madera County is a poor county.
Madera County residents are already facing increasing taxes and fees such as the fire tax, the recently passed Measure C bond, a 12% increase in trash fees, a car registration fee increase of $65 per car which will go into effect in July, a 42% increase in gas taxes, not to mention the previous bond measures on elementary, high school, State Center Community College and other bond measures and special assessments passed by voters in previous years.
Solution: It is not the role of government to run businesses, but to encourage them. County governments, like households, need to operate within their budgets and come up with creative ideas to bring businesses to our county by keeping regulation and taxes at a minimum. Raising our sales tax will hurt this effort.
Remember, the greater the government, the greater the poverty. The greater the liberty, the greater the wealth.
For more information go to: NoOnMeasureL.org.
Editor’s note: John Pero is the coordinator of the Oakhurst/Coarsegold/Mariposa Tea Party, and a member of the Madera County Republican Party.