TRUCKEE, Calif. - My "No on Measure J" sign is homemade because I do not have any extra money in my personal budget to pay for snazzy professional signs. Since 2008 my family and I have personally struggled with our own budget.
I do believe that there is an economic light at the end of this long, dark recession but in Truckee we are still struggling. I have been reading all the pros and cons for Measure J in both the Sierra Sun and Moonshine Ink and it is my personal opinion that I do not want to contribute any more "property assessment" dollars to the Truckee Donner Parks and Recreation District. Although the Aquatic Center and the Performing Arts Center are both very lovely ideas in concept, and yes I do believe they should be built some day, but right now in 2012 my reasons for voting "NO" are two-fold:
Both feasibility reports (TDPRD website home page) state that both the Performing Arts Center and the Aquatic Center will operate in the negative for the first five years of operation: Specifically the Aquatic Center will be a -$1,002,308.00 and the Performing Arts Center a -$457,675.00 for a combined total of $1,459,983.00 in the negative. It does not matter if one project is built first and another built three years later the end result over the combined operation of the five year budgets is still a big negative operating loss.
Patty Lomanto's "My Turn" article in the October 26, 2012 Sierra Sun, cites numerous accounting inconsistencies and errors in the 2010 and 2011 independent CPA audits. In 2011 the TDPRD's end of year financial statement cites $462,622.00 less cash and investments on hand than the previous year due to operating expenses and debt payments. In simple language, it appears the district is not making enough money to pay their bills.
In 2010 the independent CPA audit cited accounting errors in the range of "millions of dollars." So, let me understand this - the Rec. District wants to use the value of my house to add a NEW property assessment so they can finance the two new projects with an additional bond in the amount of $8.5 million. Why should I have confidence that the Rec. District has the financial knowledge or fiscal responsibility to manage another $8.5 million of new borrowed money when they are already operating at a yearly loss and by their own admission the new projects will be operating at additional losses for the first five years of operation? This is a simple answer for me, NO.
Oh, and does anyone recall that Phase I of the new Rec, Center was built by an "out of state contractor" when the contractors and their employees in this town were feeling the financial tightening of the Great Recession?
My second reason for voting 'No" on Measure J has to do with where the projects are slated to be built. The Truckee Tahoe Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan (December 2004) defines the influence area extends 2.7 miles from the airport runways (pg #1 Draft December 2004). The current location of the TDPRD facility and the future location of the proposed community pool and theater will be in this "airport influence area."
I find it difficult to understand why the airport runway proximity is not mentioned in either of the TDPRD's feasibility reports available on the TDPRD website. The simple fact remains there have been nine plane crashes at or near the Tahoe Truckee Airport in the past four years (Sierra Sun 08/02/2012) and the site of the proposed Rec. expansion is in the takeoff path of the most used runway.
I believe the airport is an asset to the town and the majority of all flights leaving Truckee do not have any issues but we are human and humans make mistakes. The airport flight path "influence" should have been addressed in the TDPRD feasibility reports. This has not been done.
In closing I agree with Patty Lamanto with when saying that a "No" vote on Measure J is demanding a greater accountability and transparency in our government and special districts when requesting more "property assessments" from me.
Toni Robinson has been a Truckee resident the past 22 years.