TRUCKEE, Calif. - On your ballot next week, Measure J will present us with a question that goes much deeper than merely the reasonableness of the amount of the assessment that would be charged to property owners if Measure J is successful. The real question is just what kind of town do we envision Truckee being as we go deeper into the 21st century?
Do we continue to see ourselves (as some certainly do) as being a small mountain community that wants to remain the town that it was in the 1970's? Rural, small population, no growth, stagnant economy. Or do we see ourselves as a vibrant community that wants the old Truckee charm, but also wants to move into a more modern world? And that to continue to make our town a desirable place to live for us, not just for tourists, we want amenities that make our lives better, more fun, and more enjoyable?
Truckee has a community pool that is now on life-support. It has outlived its useful life and will not be around much longer. So, do we want our community to be without an important public amenity like a community swimming facility? Do we want youngsters to not be able to learn to swim or seniors to lose their opportunity for regular exercise?
While we know that recreation or exercise is an important part of an abundant life, not all of us are athletes. For some of us, the Arts are what add meaning to our lives. We would like to be able to see live performances of music, dance, or drama in Truckee without having to drive to Reno or Sacramento. And many of us want our children to share our love of the Arts and, to do so, they need a place to be able to learn and hone their craft. Truckee doesn't have that place. How many of our children will continue to miss out on the inspiration that comes from performing before a full house on a real stage and taking a bow to applause?
In their zeal for "no new taxes," the opponents of Measure J raise a host of misleading arguments to try to gain your vote, and, without any informed justification, they challenge the excellent financial reputation that the TDRPD has enjoyed for many years. But, is "no new taxes" really the way to go if that route will leave us stuck in the 1970s? Do we have to live with the same amenities from the 1970s even though we are now in the 21st century? Must we be limited in the programs that can be offered because we don't have the amenities to provide more ambitious programs?
This is Truckee's moment, while construction costs and interest rates are low, to make a significant improvement to our community. We shouldn't pass up this opportunity because waiting will only allow the cost of these facilities to rise again, and likely preclude our ability to ever construct them.
Measure J represents years of hard work by many committed individuals in designing highly functional, yet reasonably-priced, amenities that will make our lives better, and our town a more desirable place to live. TDRPD has shown both that it is an excellent steward of public monies and trust and that they can afford to build and operate these amenities. They have two million dollars in uncategorized reserves - money that could readily pay for the operating costs of these facilities.
There will always be a handful of loud naysayers who don't want to hear the facts because it doesn't serve their purpose. They seek instead to obscure and confuse by painting a doomsday scenario and by misrepresenting or distorting the real facts. They simply want to remain in the 1970s as they chant their favorite refrain, "No new taxes."
For about $20 a year for most of us, we can have two facilities that will immediately make Truckee a better place to live, and that will bring new jobs and more than $2 million of annual economic benefit to our community. Or we can avoid any new taxes at all costs and remain in the 1970's. On Tuesday, it's our choice.
Choose a better community. Choose better lives for each of us. Choose greater prosperity. Choose that by voting "Yes" on Measure J.
Bob French is a Truckee resident and co-chair of Truckee First.