Letters to the Editor
Golf courses as open space?
To the Editor:
When did a golf course become open space? Last time I checked people could not freely inhabit golf courses. The paths are not open to hikers, bikers or those walking their dogs. Plants cannot grow freely and animals cannot hunt for food. People must pay to use golf courses.
Golf courses are large pieces of land that have been made devoid of their natural state. They require copious amounts of water to survive and can pollute our rivers and streams with toxic fertilizers. The Town of Truckee is in the process of approving developments with seven new golf courses in and around the town limits. If developers can be granted the choice to designate golf courses as open spaces imagine what color Truckee will become? Bright green-as lush lawns will cover the landscape where sagebrush and pine trees once stood. I do realize that these proposed developments are on private land. However, we the people of Truckee can direct the Town Council to enact legislation protecting the native landscape. It is up to us to encourage them to give golf courses a new definition. Please join me at the next town council meeting and voice your opinion regarding golf courses as open spaces.
Writer uses airport to mask real issue
In a recent letter to the editor, “Property tax limitations force poor choices,” Mr. Gaylen Larson advocates alteration of current law to allow counties to support schools with property taxes. He asserts that the funds the Truckee Tahoe Airport District receives ought to be given over to the county to support schools. Not only does Mr. Larson’s logic fly in the face of reality, it ignores several issues outlined in the article he quoted, “Schools Feeling the Pinch.”
In “Schools Feeling the Pinch,” they are supported by state funds. To do otherwise would lead to wide, even fatal, disparity in public education. What of the county with minimal and widely dispersed population? It could not hope to compete using county funds, not to mention the stress on county managers and councils attempting to balance diverse requirements. On the other hand, when you consider the financial transactions the airport facilitates, the taxes generated go into the state general fund for use in schools. According to the Airport Economic Impact Study of 2000, the airport has a total impact of plus 235 jobs in the area. All these jobs create taxes and contribute to the local population of workers, families, and school-age children.
The declining enrollment of school-age children is a central issue that Superintendent Pat Gemma identified in “Schools Feeling the Pinch.” Since schools are funded per student, damage to any of the local economic engines, along with rising costs, gentrification, and more part-time residents like Mr. Larson, will fuel decline and increased operating costs per student.
General aviation airport users and tenants, despite the fact some may not be full-time residents pay a variety of taxes for use of the facility. These taxes, from the business revenue they generate contribute to the local and state economies in ways Mr. Larson glosses over. On an average day, the total that airport visitors spend is just under $10,000. This figure does not include the spending and taxes generated by full-time residents who use the airport.
Mr. Larson’s letter ignores the geographic reality of bi-county school and airport district, as well as considering how the school district uses its own funds. You cannot simply reallocate taxes, nor can the school district divert some funds for its new priorities. The school district’s plans and funding for a new bus barn are worth looking at in this light. Perhaps a better target for lobbying our legislators is to change the rules of uses of bond monies so you do no build bus storage when schools are crumbling.
You have to ask yourself whether, Mr. Larson is more a friend of education in the Truckee area or an enemy of the airport and business. I think he is cynically using schools as an issue to scare full-time residents and isolate the airport for his own agenda. Depriving the community of an economic engine like the airport can only serve to further constrain our schools, business development, and the infrastructure needed to maintain a balanced economy and population. Lastly, it would remove a public educational resource: local school children are planning to visit in May to help them learn about how aviation contributes to transportation and communication. Why don’t you visit, too?
Like voting and lobbying, where you buy a house is voluntary. If you do not want to see property taxes supporting aspects of the local economy you don’t like, choose elsewhere.
F. Robert Marshall