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New tax measure for Calaveras County fire protection makes next year's ballot

Calaveras County residents will vote on new tax measure aimed at fire protection
Calaveras County residents will vote on new tax measure aimed at fire protection 01:47

CALAVERAS COUNTY — A new tax measure is now on the ballot in Calaveras County, and proponents say it's vital when it comes to fire protection.

In just a few months since we last visited the Calaveras Consolidated Fire Protection District, they've lost some of the few members they have.

"They don't want to go, but they're comment to me is, 'Chief, we can't keep doing this,' " Chief Richard Dickinson said.

Dickinson said his department is just one in the county that's struggling and the problem is simple: not only can't they pay their firefighters as much as big cities, but they can't even compete with fast food wages.

"In Calaveras County, there are many stations that are not staffed right now due to budget," Dickinson said.

A new measure just got enough signatures to go on next year's ballot. It would add a 1% sales tax in the county to support local fire departments. Dana Nichols, the chairman of the Calaveras Local Fire Protection Committee, helped lead the effort to gather signatures.

"The reason we're trying again is we believe that if more property owners and residents do the math, they're going to see they're a lot better off paying a little bit of money in sales tax versus not having staffing at the fire station," Nichols said.

A similar measure has been on the ballot before but failed to pass by just 266 votes. Nichols thinks education will be key this time around, but he knows a new tax won't be popular.

"I get that because we're all facing the squeeze of inflation," he said. "It's just that when I do the math, I'm better off paying a few hundred dollars in sales tax than I am thousands of dollars in fire insurance."

"When it's your worst day, do you want a fire truck pulling up to your house to help your family?" Dickinson said.

Residents in Calaveras County will vote on the measure in March.

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