Peter Cavanaugh

I’m voting yes on L

Years ago a friend of mine who was a very successful life insurance salesman commented that over his career he had never heard a widow complain about the amount of money her husband had spent on the premiums for his life insurance policy.

It is the same with fire insurance and theft insurance. The heartache is there but at least there is some financial assistance. However, there are things that we can do to help ourselves prior to the thefts and the fires. We can take actions that quite possibly can stave off the disaster.

We live in a forest. No matter what we want to believe, the question of, “If there is going to be a fire” should really be, “When is there going to be a fire?”

At night most of us lock our doors to keep the intruders out and when we leave our homes we take steps to protect our property. Doors locked, alarms set, neighbors notified, or house sitters hired to protect what we own from becoming owned by other people.

Most of us take the steps to protect our property from fire by keeping defensible spaces around our homes and our roofs cleared of dry leaves and needles. We practice safety when it comes to our fireplaces and woodstoves as well as other activities that involve flames such as burning candles.

Our last resort is our reliance on the great men and women who are part of the local fire departments as well as the brave souls who are members of the law enforcement community. Those two entities are there when we need them and they are the agencies that keep us on our toes to do our part while they do their part in arresting the bad guys or dousing the flames.

In a couple of weeks they need our help in passing a tax on ourselves to increase their budgets to help us.

I know the arguments. I am a fiscally conservative person who hates tax increases a great deal. I know that Madera County spends money on programs I don’t like or even think we need. I know it will cost us money and it will hurt some more than it hurts others to give more to the government.

I also know the fear of looking at the fire coming toward my home and being on two-hour evacuation alert. I know friends who lost every possession in the recent fires that hit Oakhurst and Bass Lake Heights.

The facts place us in a tough place as they put the Madera County Board of Supervisors in tough places as well. State and federal mandates along with bond obligations and other fixed costs take most of the money from the budget of the county whether the supervisors like it or not. The remaining dollars, which I understand hovers around the $60 million dollar range, covers the rest and the discretionary spending of the supervisors.

When a $250 million dollar budget faces a 5% cut the money doesn’t come from the $250 million but from the discretionary dollars amount. The example I am offering would have 5% cut or $12.5 million dollar hit but that would come solely from the $60 million leaving the supervisors with only $48 million or a cut of 21%.

Don’t get me wrong - I hate increasing taxes for most reasons. I hate being left defenseless against the bad guys and the flames.

One cent on the dollar is what they ask. If I were to spend $10,000 in taxable purchases this coming year it would cost me a whopping $100. Not chump change but not enough to get excited about either. That amount comes to 27 cents per day and if the fire folks and the sheriff tell me that for 27 cents per day they can make me safer from the two greatest threats to my safety I will be more than happy to pay that fee.

I guarantee that should Measure L fail and one of the opponents to that measure loses their home to a fire, or they face the results of a crime to their family, they won’t be quoted in the Sierra Star as saying they were still glad they saved the “penny on a dollar.”

We can all agree that our taxes are too high and that the budgets are bloated in many areas. But in this county we have many tourists who will be spending their money on taxable items and we get the benefit of those collected tax dollars. If the cost of living in this beautiful area requires an extra $100 per year out of my spending money for safety then so be it.

This tight-wadded, fiscal conservative, strongly urges each of you to remember the old English adage, “Penny wise and pound foolish.” The tax of one cent makes sense to me.

Join me in voting Yes on Measure L.