Open-space measure unlikely for November ballot
More work needs to be done before proponents attempt to get a measure aimed at raising money for open space in Truckee on a future ballot.
In the Town of Truckee’s quest to protect open space, a town-sponsored survey completed in April 2005 showed overwhelming support for a quarter-cent sales tax increase and a property parcel charge in order to raise money to buy undeveloped land.
However, that initial enthusiasm for the measure has since subsided, and the earlier projections of having a measure on the November ballot is no longer a reality.
“It seemed like the support was overwhelmingly there,” said Leigh Fitzpatrick, Truckee Trails Foundation executive director. “There’s still a lot of information gathering to gauge the real undercurrent.”
Fitzpatrick said an open space committee was formed in 2003 as a means to explore various ways to protect land. Representatives from local non-profits, government agencies and special districts in the area decided to utilize a survey to poll registered voters and property owners to find out whether or not the community would support a sales tax hike or a parcel charge every year.
Perry Norris, Truckee Donner Land Trust executive director, said the polling results showed significant support in the town.
According to the polling firm results through 300 telephone interviews, more than 70 percent of those called said they would “definitely” or “probably” support an open-space measure. Norris said the survey results from last year have not been forgotten, yet the committee hasn’t held a meeting in a year.
“We’re still pondering options in what to do with the conclusions that were reached,” Norris said.
Fitzpatrick said the poll results brought up many more important questions to ask the community before the measure can continue.
“Are you willing to pay for it?” Fitzpatrick said. “How deep is the commitment?”
He said people are in support of preserving open space, but when it comes down to actually having to pay a higher sales tax, the community support can quickly drop.
Norris said open-space proponents want to be cautious and “turn over every stone” as a means to gather information and available resources.
Tony Lashbrook, Truckee town manager, said the challenge for the town is how to campaign the open space measure to see it get onto the ballot. The town isn’t allowed to use taxpayer money to support a ballot measure. Lashbrook said a community group is needed to head up the campaign and gain awareness of the proposed measure.
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The Truckee Town Council has unanimously approved of a pilot program to remove snow on privately maintained paved trails in the area.