Pinole's Measure M, an extension of the city utility users tax, deserves voter support, unless residents want to strangle municipal finances.

General fund revenues have declined about 22 percent in the past five years. City staffing has been cut 35 percent. The size of the police department has been reduced by nearly a third. The fire department has been trimmed by a quarter, resulting in the closure of one of the two fire stations. The public works department is less than half the size it used to be.

And now the city's utility tax, originally approved in 1998, is due to expire at year's end if Measure M fails. That would cut 20 percent more from the city general fund. The 8 percent tax is applied to electric, gas and telephone bills. This is not the time to cut it off.

Vote yes on Measure M in Pinole.