The president of the local firefighters union says he's sympathetic to residents opposed to new taxes.


"I'm a Republican, borderline Tea Party, person myself," said Bret Henry, the president of San Bernardino County Professional Firefighters, Local 935. "We understand that [residents] don't want taxes. I don't want taxes. ... But I want proper fire protection for my home."


Firefighters will be the ones who have to promote a proposed new parcel tax, should the Hesperia City Council approve it at their July 19 meeting. The tax is intended to plug a $1.1 million gap in the Hesperia Fire District budget created by falling property tax revenue.


"We're a property tax funded organization, and with property tax going down, it's obviously going to hurt the city and the fire district."


If the tax doesn't pass in November -- and it'll need to win the support of two-thirds of voters -- the council has indicated they will likely cut nine firefighters instead to balance the district's budget. That could have a dramatic impact on the quality of service residents receive, according to Henry.


"It's possible that the [fire] engines could become basic life support rather than advanced life support."


That means the fire engines won't be carrying equipment necessary to intubate victims with blocked airways, heart monitors, intravenous drugs or portable defibrillators.


"Probably in the 90 percent of [Hesperia] calls are [emergency medical] related," said Henry, a Hesperia resident himself.


"It's a dilemma for us," he said. "We're all residents, too, and we pay taxes, too, and we don't like them more than anyone else."


The city council is set to vote on the proposed ballot item at their July 19 meeting.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.