It’s not a tax increase: that’s what Mount Shasta Fire Protection District Chief Chris Baker wants the public to know about Measure L.

Instead, Measure L, which will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, is a voter-approved spending cap which will allow the district to spend tax revenue they already collect, he said.

“The Gann Initiative, passed in 1978, requires all special districts to have a spending cap approved by voters every four years,” Baker explained. This prevents districts from having a large sum of money that may remain unspent, he said.

Currently, the district’s voter-approved spending limit is $350,000. On Nov. 8, Baker would like voters to increase that cap to $375,000 in anticipation of new construction and property improvement that may occur over the next four years.

If voters don’t approve Measure L, the District’s budget would drop to $170,000 – an amount calculated by the state based on household income of district residents.

“The problem with that is, many of the homes in the district are vacation homes, or they’re owned by people who have paid off their house and are living on Social Security,” said Baker. The state formula also doesn’t take into account many of the added costs of firefighting in a rural area like Mount Shasta.

“We’re different than other districts... we have rural water supply and four wheel drive engines.”

Baker said the Mount Shasta Fire Protection District responds to 400 to 500 emergency calls each year, including medical emergencies, traffic accidents, wildfires and structure fires, and if Measure L doesn’t pass, there will be some consequences.

The district would most likely have to lay off its two permanent paid staff members, which include Baker and Assistant Chief Rick Joyce. They also couldn’t afford the two seasonal firefighters they employ in the summer to ensure proper coverage.

“There would also be an increase in response time, which might mean a loss of life and property,” said Baker.

Also a concern is a possible drop in the District’s very low Home Insurance Rating of 4. If this were to happen, Baker said residents might have trouble getting homeowner’s insurance, and rates could increase as much as $1,500 a year.

Still, Baker said the most important thing for people to know is that Measure L doesn’t raise taxes.

“We are in desperate need of everyone's support,” Baker said. “Since 1978, these measures have always been passed in Siskiyou County. We’ve never had one not pass, but we’ve never been in a recession like this, either.”

Vote by mail packets have already been sent out to district voters, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Voting will take place at the Mount Shasta Community Building, 629 Alder Street in Mount Shasta.

To learn more about Measure L, go to mshfire.com or look for the Mount Shasta Fire Protection District on Facebook. You can also call the station at (530) 926-0702 to talk with Baker directly.