They know better

Can Butte County voters be trusted to decide whether to tax themselves to pay for better police and fire protection? No, said two county supervisors this week.

Dismissing appeals from police and fire chiefs from around the county, who argued that budget cuts had left them unable to provide even a minimal standard of service, two supervisors, Richvale’s Curt Josiassen and Paradise’s Kim Yamaguchi, voted against putting a measure on the ballot calling for a small increase in the local sales tax. A supermajority of four votes was needed.

The measure would have asked voters to approve a half-cent hike in the local sales tax and been accompanied by an advisory measure naming public safety as a top budget priority. It included a two-year sunset clause as well as a “poison pill” provision that automatically would have rescinded it in the event the state again raided local coffers to balance its budget.

The measure was worthy of public debate and vote. Yamaguchi said he opposed it because the accompanying advisory measure was non-binding, but that’s a red herring. The supervisors, after all, would have been in charge of how the $11 million generated was spent.

The real issue here was the citizens’ right to vote on an important matter of public safety, and two men denied them that right. Shame on them.