My Turn: Sliding tax scale based on assessed value is the better option for bond collection
Special to the Sun
I am writing to respond to Michael Ketronand#8217;s letter to the editor, and#8220;Questionable bond collecting measure for rec center upgrade,and#8221; published in the Friday, June 11, print edition.
At this time the Board of Directors of the Truckee Donner Recreation and Parks District has not decided if and when to bond the aquatic phase of our master plan. The purpose of this new research was to update a 2005 survey to determine if the general public still desired expanded facilities and to weigh taxed threshold for success. The 2005 survey indicated that 78 percent of the general public was in favor of an annualized average tax amount of $50 per year. But as you know, economics have changed dramatically since 2005, and so we are updating our research to statistically understand cost and timing (if any) to build the new aquatic center.
We have not debated in full the pros and cons of a flat fee per property owner vs. a tax amount per assessed value as you argue. But it is my personal opinion your recommendation of a higher tax to lower income constituents is more unfair than a sliding scale based upon owned property assessed value. For now, I feel an assessment per $100,000 value a better direction to take and one that will increase our odds of passing a measure.
Mathematically, if the average assessed value in Truckee is approximately $290,000, then a $50 average annualized rate backs into an assessed value of $17.24 per every $100,000. End result would be an approximate general obligation bond that would generate $20,689,000 to be used for the construction project. The initial cost estimate to the TDRPD of an aquatic center came in at roughly $21 million. However, since that time, we have challenged everyone to get the cost down as low as possible in order to increase our chances of success. Today, we have settled on an aquatic center that will cost $12.5 million; a cut in facility costs and features by $8.5 million. By virtue of financial acumen and luck, TDRPD was fortunate to bring the existing Community Center to the public at $7 million below financing, and the board of directors recently committed $3 million of that amount to the aquatic project thus lowering the bond cost to the public to $9.5 million. The balance of the $7 million we saved (or $4 million) has been committed to the renovation and construction of a new Community Performing Arts Center to be located at the old community center site. At this time, we have not decided upon a bond tax level, but it is my leaning to perhaps use $10 per $100,000 assessed value per year to get this and other projects moving.
When I had the pleasure of being chairman for the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce in 2000, we approached the Town of Truckee to plea for greater funds from transient occupancy tax revenues in order to better market Truckee to outside visitors. During that debate, a former mayor and today a great friend stated (and I paraphrase) that and#8220;When times are tough, it is not the time to cut and run, but the time to invest in our community to generate visitor dollars.and#8221; I still believe in this philosophy. I believe in investing in our community. I believe Truckee is recreation-oriented and that the better facilities we have today, the more permanent residents we can draw. I also believe that drawing more to live in our area will help everyone, most notably our depressed construction market.
In closing I would also like to state that the general manager, Steve Randall, has been charged with doing everything in his power to research the law to best maximize project spending locally. We also feel that building a facility now allows us to obtain a building at a far lower cost than ever before thus maximizing our financial reach. Transparency is key to us, and I would like to ask you to attend a board meeting, ask us questions, get more facts and go a bit further with your research. Perhaps we would be so lucky to even earn a and#8216;Yesand#8217; vote from you in the future.
Kevin C. Murphy is a board member of the Truckee Donner Recreation and Parks District.
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