To the editor:
As the director of Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, it is my responsibility to protect the health and welfare of the county's residents. The purpose of this letter is to urge Cape Girardeau residents to vote yes for the fire sales tax June 8.
While "fire sales tax" suggests fire department benefits, this will also benefit our police department. Protection against crime and emergencies in Cape Girardeau is good. But it is a serious situation that confronts the city administration. In my opinion, it is critical that this sales tax pass.
Equipment is outdated. Fire trucks have broken down while on fire runs. The Jaws of Life (donated to the fire department 20 years ago) broke down recently, delaying a rescue that fortunately was not a serious accident. Our police department purchases used highway patrol vehicles with 60,000 miles on them.
There was a Speak Out comment saying our police officers should not complain about their salaries and should go elsewhere if they were not happy. That is exactly what our officers are doing. Many areas close to Cape Girardeau pay more, have better benefits and are less stressful communities to work in. Chief Steve Strong and our department have become a training ground for other communities.
No one wants to pay more taxes, but this is a quarter-cent sales tax, not a property tax. Half of it will sunset in 10 years. Cape Girardeau must have a means to purchase needed equipment or residents' future well-being will be seriously compromised.
Director, Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center