Measure would fund emergency services by our local fire departments
SAN ANDREAS: Five Calaveras County community leaders celebrated Valentines Day Tuesday by filing notice that they intend to circulate a ballot initiative petition to fund local fire agencies.
The initiative seeks voter approval for a 1 percent sales tax to fund the county’s ten local fire agencies. If proponents secure the required 2,124 valid signatures, the measure would be on the ballot for the March 2024 Primary Election.
“We love Calaveras County and we want our county to have adequate fire protection,” said Dana Nichols, chairman of the Calaveras Local Fire Protection Committee and one of the five proponents. Nichols also serves as president of the San Andreas Fire Protection District Board of Directors.
A similar ballot initiative, Measure A, in November 2022 won 10,261 yes votes but fell short of approval by only 266 ballots.
Nichols said the committee behind the measure has expanded its membership and plans to run a stronger campaign to better educate voters and counter misinformation.
“After the loss in November, we learned that many voted against because they either believed it was a property tax, or even that they don’t need local fire protection because we have Cal Fire,” Nichols said.
Sherri Reusche, also a proponent of the initiative, said she wants local fire agencies to be able to hire permanent staff to keep stations open 24 hours a day.
“We want our firefighters first of all to stay in our county,” she said. “I don’t think people have any idea how many services they provide for our community.”
Reusche, a business owner, serves in a number of leadership roles including as Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce president and as a board member for Calaveras Unified School District.
The other proponents are:
• John Hesketh of West Point, a business owner and member of the West Point Fire Protection District board.
• Bertha Underhill of Arnold, a community volunteer and member of the Calaveras County Water District board.
• Shannon Sharp of Mountain Ranch, an educator and community volunteer