My Turn: Since when do voters sign a ballot?
As I reviewed my mail today I found a ballot and a mailer very glossy, provided by the intended recipient of the funds (using public funds to prepare?) and likely printed as the embers of the Washoe Fire were cooling – requesting a small additional assessment to property taxes to support improved fire protection. Didnt we recently approve just such an assessment? Why dont these proposals ever state the annual cost rather than the monthly assessment, as if our tax bills are paid monthly? Are we viewed as too simple to understand the math? To say that the timing of this request, on the heels of two serious fires, smells a bit of opportunism, seems an understatement. The fact that the Washoe Fire was handled so well and the Angora Fire response was hampered by 911 dispatcher human error begs the question of whether resources are adequate but personnel need better training in some areas. Perhaps there is a real and justified need for funds; nothing Ive seen spells out any specifics. Teenagers routinely justify their requests for funds a bit better. Then there is the ballot. Since when in America is one required to sign and print ones name on a ballot? Is this in conformance with election laws?The larger issue for the greater Tahoe area is fiscal accountability and responsibility. Most of us are aware that property taxes are reassessed at time of property sale (or new construction). Since the values, and sales prices, of properties here have increased dramatically in the last five to seven years, and there have been many transactions, it would seem that the counties revenues would have increased substantially. Wheres the dough? How much has tax revenue increased? Is there enough to support additional fire resources without tapping the homeowner? Tahoe in particular has seen a lot of tax base growth but little actual growth; the remodels get bigger and there are a few more houses, but basically the demand on resources is static, unlike places that are exhibiting population growth.In case you havent noticed, there are a lot of special fund requests, like Measure C, always packaged individually, seldom bundled as part of a regular election. Do you feel as nickel-and-dimed as I do? Perhaps the strategy is that individually these approved assessments are fairly small, but take a good look at your tax bill this year, and see the impact.Unless you are the lucky recipient of unlimited funds, you probably make decisions and trade-offs about where you spend your limited disposable income. Isnt it time for government, in all its forms (school, fire, hospital, roads, police etc.) to actually review available resources and allocate them in accordance with need and availability rather than just ask for another handout?County government needs to address what proportion of taxes is actually returned to Tahoe in the form of services, as opposed to the siphon to Auburn that sees our roads deteriorate and our local agencies steadily increase our fees. Until I become convinced that there is a fair allocation and return of funding, Ill just say no.Al Guglietti is a Tahoe City resident and a project manager for large-scale construction.
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