Guest Column: Incorporating Olympic Valley — myths vs. realities
Opponents to the proposed incorporation of Olympic Valley have voiced in interviews, public letters and advertisements statements about incorporation that are incorrect.
We want to speak to these directly:
Myth: A new town would not be financially viable.
Truth: A comprehensive fiscal analysis is being performed by a neutral financial services firm. If the town is viable, the application moves forward. If not viable, the application will be denied.
Myth: A new Town would be anti-development.
Truth: We realize the limitations of our current Village and want the Valley to thrive economically. We recognize that businesses and land-holders are entitled to profit and that development can co-exist in a long-term sustainable manner with the beauty of our mountains, our history and character, and our natural resources.
Myth: Taxes would be raised.
Truth: Property taxes and the local share of sales taxes will not change because they are fixed by State law. New taxes can be raised only if the voters of the Town decide to raise them. History shows Valley residents to be fiscally conservative. Improper use of fees will not stand scrutiny.
Myth: There is not enough qualified talent to run a new Town.
Truth: Qualified, talented Valley residents already serve on various Olympic Valley committees (e.g. MAC, Public Service District, Design Review Committee). Undoubtedly, competent folks will step forward as they have in the past. An experienced Town Manager would be hired and is not required to be a Valley resident.
Myth: The new Town will negatively affect the Tahoe region by keeping all its monies in the Valley.
Truth: It is foolish to think the Town would discontinue bus service, not support North Tahoe services, and not continue being a key part of the region. Financial resources will remain for Olympic Valley to assist with the mutual interests of our neighbors in Tahoe, very much as is done now.
Myth: Only a small percentage of Olympic Valley stakeholders will have a say.
Truth: While it is true that only registered voters can elect and serve on the Town Council, all members of the community, permanent and part-time, can (1) serve on support committees (e.g. Planning, PSD), (2) participate in Town Council meetings in person or via web-based interactive technology, (3) lobby the Town Council directly for their interests, (4) advocate to get individuals elected to the Council who share their views. If they are Olympic Valley property owners, they can also choose to register to vote locally.
Myth: A new Town would risk bankruptcy like another small California mountain town, Mammoth Lakes.
Truth: Mammoth Lakes’ Town Council, with inadequate advice from legal counsel, made an inappropriate decision and became in breach of contract. As a result, the town was sued and forced to declare bankruptcy. In contrast, Olympic Valley will retain skilled and knowledgeable legal counsel as staff.
Myth: A new Town creates another level of bureaucracy.
Truth: The government of a new town would replace some of the existing County’s municipal services administration or contract it out, and not duplicate it, if the County so chooses to downsize.
Dr. Fred Ilfeld is chairman of the grassroots nonprofit Incorporate Olympic Valley. Visit incorporateolympicvalley.org to learn more.