My Turn: No! no! no more taxes!
September 25, 2008
In case you haven’t heard, the Truckee Tahoe Unified School District is asking us, once again, for $93 million dollars. This is the same $93 million dollars that we voted down in June 2008 as Measure L. Now it is billed as Measure U. The school district facilities are not in crisis and there is nothing critical on the project list for this money. Further, none of this money would be used for student improvement programs.
The timing of this bond request couldn’t be worse. This is not the time to be putting more financial burdens on the citizens. We are in an economic crisis in this country. Inflation is the highest it has been in 17 years. Unemployment continues to rise, people are losing their homes, fuel prices are the highest ever, food prices continue to escalate and health insurance is a luxury.
Truckee is not immune, nor protected from the state of the economy. The heart and hands of our community are being forced out. Our nurses, fire, police and teaching professionals cannot afford to live in Truckee. Our construction community has to live elsewhere and there are vacant business sites all over town.
Young families are unable to make ends meet and get deeper in debt. Our seniors are caught with no way to meet the demand for more of their money.
The policy makers in our community proclaim that they want our citizens to stay and our community to be an affordable place to live but their actions say something different.
Truckee is suffering from bond and tax fatigue. In addition to our base property tax there are no less than 13 additional assessments and bonds. And the Recreation and Parks District will be asking us for approximately $40 million sometime in the next two years to complete their new center.
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If your house isn’t new and you need an upgraded roof, carpet or plumbing repairs, you don’t generally tear down the house to make those upgrades.
The school district is proposing to do just that, tear down existing facilities and build new stuff. This plan is environmentally irresponsible and wasteful while the district says it wants to be green and energy efficient.
Approximately $51 million dollars of the Measure U money will go into tearing down the existing portable classrooms at Truckee High School and building a permanent facility. The new facility will house the district administrative offices until the space is needed for classrooms. District student enrollment has declined 14 percent since October 2000.
I am confused because at a recent school board meeting the acting superintendent said they expected the district enrollment to continue to decrease; yet the measure U folks claim it will increase.
More than 62 percent of our base property tax dollars go to fund schools and this does not include the special school assessments and bonds. What are they doing with this money? Every time a building or home is constructed in our community, the developer must pay a whopping fee to support the schools (developer fees).
This amounts to between $2 million and $3 million dollars a year, which can be used for renovation and construction.
The school district has no transparent plan for this money.
Many of the proposed projects can be paid for with these developer monies. Currently, developer fees are being used to improve traffic circulation at Truckee Elementary, one of the proposed Measure U projects.
While the Yes on Measure U folks are busy framing the issues to convince us to vote yes, the rest of us are trying to figure out how we are going to pay for it. We simply cannot afford any new taxes at this time. It is time to send a message. It is time for public agencies to figure out how to manage what they already have. It is OK to vote no on Measure U.