Truckee Town Council approves town priorities, discusses vacancy tax |

Truckee Town Council approves town priorities, discusses vacancy tax

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Truckee Town Council on Tuesday approved their priorities and discussed their work plan for 2023-25. 

The previous two-year priorities included infrastructure and community connectivity, workforce housing, enhanced communication and public outreach, emergency preparedness and environmental sustainability. During the council’s January 2023 retreat, they reaffirmed those as their priorities. 

During the Tuesday meeting, council gave direction on which tasks within each priority they’d like staff to focus on and which ones would go to, or remain, in the bike rack for future years. 

The Town is hoping to hire another Senior Planner in the near future but when discussing the priorities, they are operating under the assumption that position won’t be filled so they don’t overextend. 

One of the items they discussed was their dark skies policy which was on the bike rack. Councilmemeber Courtney Henderson, who was attending the meeting remotely, said she was concerned the longer it stayed on the bike rack, the harder it would be to implement. Councilmember Anna Klovstad also agreed, saying that more emphasis could be put on education developers about the town’s current dark sky policies. 

Other items on the bike rack that council discussed was to develop a comprehensive wayfinding/welcome sign plan, which council decided to drop from the list and discussion of consolidating the parks and recreation districts, which council decided to leave on hold. 

While the priorities were approved, council will be holding off on voting on the work plan until after the General Plan is approved. 

The only other item council discussed was a vacancy tax options analysis. The item was on the consent agenda but because of the significant amount of public comment, Vice Mayor Dave Polivy pulled the item for discussion. 

Polivy stated that a vacancy tax is not a done deal, “this is the first step in researching if its even a possibility.” 

By 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 48 public comments had been submitted on this item, many in opposition of a vacancy tax. 

“The idea of a vacancy tax is completely misguided and flawed. There is no real evidence that this is a positive step where it has been studied or implemented in other communities,” one public comment stated. 

Other commenters said it was unfair to second-homeowners and was essentially a double-tax for them. Many commenters said there would be better use of town dollars rather than paying for this study. 

The council voted to approve a contract for a vacancy tax analysis but reiterated that it doesn’t mean they will move forward with pursuing it. 

The meeting began with a presentation from Emergency Services Coordinator Bob Womack about receiving FEMA support for this winter. 

He said he’s been running into issues with FEMA’s current policy. 

“Their rules are very black and white and we live in a fluid situation,” Womack said. 

For example, to receive FEMA support, there must be an extraordinary situation and they said the Town removes snow every year. Womack countered that this is the second largest snow year in recent history so the snow removal process is more difficult and time consuming than a normal year. 

They also say there needs to be a singular event and because there was a 48-72 hour break between storms, it doesn’t count as a singular event. Womack pointed out that three days is not enough time to recover from the previous storm and the snow load and ice issue has been compounded by the continued weather. 

He did say FEMA has been open to working around their policies, it’s just been a difficult process. 

Finally, during council reports, Polivy updated the council on a meeting he attended with higher ups of the Postal Service. The Truckee post office is roughly only 20% staffed but it is an issue most mountain towns are dealing with right now. Part of the hiring issue is because of the lower wages postal workers make. 

The Postal Service did have several tips to help the local office keep up with demand. Residents can use informed delivery, which allows them to track exactly where their package is so they aren’t using staff time to look for a package that isn’t there. They are also asking customers to keep up-to-date with clearing their mailboxes. 

Polivy passed along that the post office is designed to easily and efficiently store USPS boxes but third-party, especially Amazon boxes, don’t fit in their storage area and are causing a lot of issues. 

Polivy used that as an opportunity to remind residents to shop local as much as possible. 

Finally, the post office offers hardship reimbursements if people miss bills because of the back-up.

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