Penn Valley fire measure deserves ‘yes’ |

Penn Valley fire measure deserves ‘yes’

Nevada County has almost made it through one of the driest summers of recent memory without a catastrophic wildfire. Will we be ready if and when another 49er Fire comes along? We will if we make sure that our firefighters have the staff, equipment and skills necessary.

That’s why The Union supports Measure R on the November ballot, which calls for a fire protection and medical emergency tax increase for the Penn Valley Fire Protection District.

Penn Valley is in the western part of the county, which saw some of the worst damage from the 49er Fire in 1988. Since that time, the district (which includes the Lake Wildwood gated community) has seen an increase of hundreds of new homes that need protection.

Yet the district still only has one fire station staffed with full-time paid firefighters – on Lake Wildwood Drive. A new station with equipment was built in 2003 at Spenceville Road in the heart of Penn Valley, but there isn’t enough money to staff it. If the paid firefighters are on a call and a second emergency comes in, volunteers must respond, when minutes may count.

The tax would raise $275,000 more for the district each year, allowing them to hire four more paid firefighters and staff the Spenceville Road station.

The Penn Valley measure is similar to the assessment sought by the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, which we also have endorsed, except that the Penn Valley measure is on the Nov. 2 general election ballot instead of a mail-in ballot.

If Measure R is approved, the tax on a single-family home would increase to one fee of $95 a year. (Currently, homeowners pay $47 for ambulance services and $11.22 for fire protection.) It would be $70 for apartments and mobile homes and $45 for unoccupied land (currently untaxed).

The measure allows for increases of up to 5 percent a year, depending on the rise in the cost of living. But what price peace of mind? A lot more than that.

We encourage voters in the Penn Valley Fire Protection District to vote for Measure R.

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