Letter to the editor- Paper missed important story
To the editor:
I recently had occasion to attend a budget hearing for the South Tahoe Public Utility District’s fiscal year, which begins on July 1. I was amazed and disappointed to find that only three citizens from the community found it important enough to attend this hearing. Or could it be that very few members of the community were even aware that this discussion was taking place?
One would think that the activities and projects of the Utility District are important, since we have now seen a decade of water and sewer rate increases. Based on the recent discussion, water and sewer rates are pegged to increase for the next five years. It should also be important to this community to know that the South Tahoe Public Utility District is planning to construct a $4.5 million headquarters building.
These are facts that are of sufficient interest to those who are paying the tab, that the local news media has an obligation to report. The only reference to the budget hearing was a series of paid advertisements in a single edition of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, noting the date and time of this hearing. I am having a difficult time remembering when any other governmental agency in the region had to buy space to provide notice to citizens of budget hearings.
There are important facts that I was able to learn from the discussion. Quarterly sewer service fees in this District are 30 percent higher than the statewide average and water service fees are 13 percent higher than the statewide average. Additionally, employee salary and benefits will increase by 5 percent this coming year. Lastly, the District has appropriated $750,000 in next year’s budget for the planning and design of the new headquarters building and the construction of an alternate road into the sewer plant. This road will be jointly used by recreational users as a result of the passage of Measure S.
These are a few of the facts that I would have expected our local news media make available to their readers. If known prior to the hearing, I can assure you that those budget discussions would have been better attended.
John N. Cefalu
South Lake Tahoe
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