Truckee mayors: Vote ‘No’ on Measure V (Opinion) |

Truckee mayors: Vote ‘No’ on Measure V (Opinion)

Courtney Henderson and David Polivy / Guest column
Courtney Henderson and David Polivy

Wildfire is one of the largest threats to our community. Yet, we are tax-fatigued in California. If we are asked to pass a new tax — as we are being asked with Measure V — it must be a tax that makes sense. Measure V is fundamentally flawed legislation that penalizes Truckee for taking the lead in passing a fire tax just last year.

In brief, Measure V fails us all on several important fronts:

Lack of accountability and no guarantee these funds will be spent on fire mitigation. Measure V is a general tax instead of a special tax. Legally, general tax revenue can be used for any purpose a County Board wants, for the next 10 years. The Board of Supervisors says they want flexibility and the option to direct these funds to other uses in the future. We cannot take this risk with our tax dollars, or our need to prepare for wildfire. By contrast, Measure T, passed by the Truckee Fire Protection District in 2021, received overwhelming support because it was a special tax and we could trust how those funds would be used.

Limits local government access to future funding. The State of California limits a local jurisdiction’s sales tax at 9.25%. If Measure V passes, our sales tax will be at 9.0%, surpassing that of San Francisco and Sacramento. What this means is that Measure V could prevent us from acting on local issues that matter here: transportation, housing, and infrastructure to enhance our quality of life and community character. We need to preserve our sales tax flexibility for the future, because we cannot always rely on County funding.

Poor return on investment. Truckee is projected to contribute $3.6 million per year to Measure V, yet the county will only send approximately $1 million back to the Town. We appreciate the county’s stated intention to direct roughly an additional $2 million to Eastern County. However, Eastern County will merely be able to advise on how these dollars are spent and the Board of Supervisors can rescind this funding at any time.

●  A duplicative tax during record inflation. TFPD passed Measure T for many of the exact purposes that Measure V proposes to support. With record inflation and the constantly escalating cost of living, Measure V will make life in our county even more expensive. At a time when many of our residents are simply trying to get by, this makes no sense.The County’s justifications for Measure V also fail on several fronts:

First, the county argues this is urgent. Yet, the Board of Supervisors declined to advance not even 3.5% of their reserves to begin wildfire mitigation projects this year. While they say this is urgent, their actions do not support that. In contrast, TFPD acted with true urgency, willingly advancing $1.2 million to begin wildfire mitigation projects this year, prior to receiving any Measure T tax revenue.

Second, the county argues that they need Measure V funds structured as a general tax for grant-matching opportunities. Yet, special tax revenue can legally be used toward grant-matching opportunities if those grant projects align with what is described in the ballot text.

Third, the County argues that Measure V is our only chance to pass a tax for wildfire mitigation. This is fundamentally untrue. There are many other opportunities to put a better-constructed measure to the voters. Indeed, we already know how to do that — we have a roadmap from Measure T.

Do not let the county’s marketing scare you into supporting this measure.

We urge you to join us in voting no on Measure V because we can do better. We absolutely need a regional approach to wildfire mitigation and we know how to do that right; we simply need the political patience and will to do so. In the meantime, the county can get started with fuels reduction projects using the money they have now. We should not gamble wildfire preparation on the uncertainty of a poorly written ballot measure.

Courtney Henderson is mayor of Truckee and David Polivy is the former mayor.

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