Letters to the editor: snow removal tax measures
November 2, 2005
Before citizens vote next week, I suggest they look at their property tax bill, and those in business in South Lake Tahoe, examine your business license. Now ask yourself, what are you receiving for your tax dollars?
El Dorado County is asking for approval of a 150 percent increase in the snow removal fee. Historically, the fee began after a meeting in Meyers in 1983, following two severe winters. The meeting was hosted by supervisors Lowe and Stewart, who promised the $20/year fee would last only seven years and would provide better snow removal forever. Obviously, forever meant the fee.
South Lake Tahoe is in worse shape than the county. During the past 27 years many well meaning City Council members have done their best, but fiscal problems still plague the city. These problems exist due to programs such as unfunded employee benefits, redevelopment, a rented city hall, a parking lot, a heavily subsidized ice skating rink, and a non-regulation soccer field.
The attempt to counter this financial drain, “tax Band-Aids” have been placed upon the citizens and businesses, such as measures S and Z. We have the highest sales tax in the county. A business license in the city is three times higher than in the city and county of San Francisco, 20 times higher than Incline Village (Washoe County) and 48 times higher than El Dorado County. The BID, a yet-to-be-legalized tax, is an attempt to bail out special interests and the Chamber of Commerce. Now the city wants an ever-increasing snow-removal fee, which will probably end up in the “rat hole” called redevelopment. Voters, please inquire about who or what group is responsible for these always increasing taxes and vote to limit their power. Remember, you cannot tax yourself into prosperity.
Jon C. Helman
South Lake Tahoe
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Support snow removal programs
I was a resident of South Lake Tahoe in 1965 when we voted to incorporate as a city to gain more local control over services. The highest priorities were snow removal, road maintenance and public safety. Two years later I went to work for the Public Works Department and became one of the people actually providing snow removal services. It was there that I learned the importance of maintaining an adequate fleet of equipment.
We had a mix of new and old equipment, but there was no comprehensive plan in place to replace the equipment as it aged. In 1973, when I was promoted to superintendent, my first priority was to develop a plan to replace snow-removal equipment that looked 20 years into the future.
It was also during this period that I learned firsthand the pride and dedication shown by the people who are out there day and night in the most difficult weather conditions. They know how much the community depends on them to get to work and school, and more important, for fire engines, ambulances and other safety equipment.
We need to give them the tools they need to do their job.
Over the past decade or more, the state has taken funding from both the city and the county, which has stripped its ability to provide services. A parcel fee was put in place 16 years ago to replace snow equipment, but inflation has caused that fee to be inadequate for what it was intended. I remember what it was like to wait for days for a snowplow to come by in an ordinary snow storm, and I do not want to go back to that situation.
If we as a community want to continue to have adequate snow removal service, we need to be willing to put up the small amount of extra money that is being requested. I hope that my fellow residents in the county will join me to support Measure S, and that the residents of the city will support Measure R at the ballot box.
South Lake Tahoe
Sneaky way to tax and spend
It is very disturbing to see that the first thing that comes to the mind of our City Council is new and sneaky ways to raise our property taxes, instead of living within their means and controlling their wasteful spending. Such as the expensive roundabout that they want put at the “Y” and the redevelopment that turned out to be corporate welfare at the expense of local taxpayers. Nine million dollars was taken out of the general fund and cash reserves for the parking garage alone! This money, however, is supposed to be for local services and road maintenance, such as buying new snow removal equipment and keeping up our law enforcement.
Now that our City Council has misappropriated our general fund and reserve monies, they want a bailout so that they can keep continuing their bad spending habits. Well, that bailout is Measure R. So let’s send a message to our City Council that we will NOT pass new taxes to continue funding their wasteful spending sprees. Vote NO on Measure R.
South Lake Tahoe
Voters should think outside the box
Anybody who pays just a little bit of attention to politics nowadays is aware of what little say “We the people” have in what really happens in our government. Yes, we get to vote for a president, but always amongst candidates who are preselected for us by special interest groups and money from big business. Those with the biggest war chests are usually the ones that owe the most to their special interest supporters. Like herds of sheep, we do our patriotic duty and cast our vote, always knowing there must be someone better. Someone different. Someone that lacks all that special interest support, but is still popular with the people. Maybe someone that thinks the environment is important, and quality of life is not just based on money.
Maybe someone who thinks outside the box just a little bit, or a person who will fight for what they believe in, instead of being subservient to those that got them elected. Wouldn’t that be a nice change!
Then it came to me as I was reading Duane Wallace’s letter to the editor on Oct. 26, we have three people just like that running for county supervisor. Thanks Duane for making it clear. It is not all about who has the biggest war chest or the most signs.
Get out and vote! Vote your conscience, not your party. Voting is good except when it is for more taxes, like Measure R.
It seems to me if the City Council can afford to accidentally place $7 million in the redevelopment fund, then it could find a way to refinance new snow removal equipment without raising taxes. Vote no on more taxes!
South Lake Tahoe
Enough with the tax bailouts
The fine workers who conduct snow removal in our city deserve our support. But Measure R is not the answer. The truth is that our City Council squanders millions of our tax dollars on the Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Authority, airport, and redevelopment, then comes begging when it’s time to pay for essential services.
Only when the voters reject Measure R might the city stop pouring our hard-earned money down those ratholes and use it instead for the things we locals really need: snow removal, fire and police protection, schools, parks, etc.
Measure R is also flawed in that it would create an automatic 3 percent tax increase every year. (I’d sure like it if my paycheck automatically increased by 3 percent every year. But it doesn’t, and our taxes shouldn’t either.)
Send a message to our City Council to stop wasting our money, and to stop putting measures on the ballot to cover their losses. Vote NO on R.
South Lake Tahoe
A no vote will send a message
We spent $5.5 million for heated sidewalks and landscaping at Park Avenue, $500,000 is owed by the parking garage, $7.5 million of general fund and reserve fund monies to the redevelopment authority and we can’t afford one new snowblower? Actually, we can.
The money is there, but our City Council is building up the general fund so we look good on paper when it’s time for the redevelopment authority to borrow for the convention center project. I challenge anyone to prove to me there has been, or will be, $1 of new gain from redevelopment projects to date.
Our employees do an excellent job despite aging equipment and even older, ill-equipped council members.
Your no vote does not invalidate our city’s employees, but tells our civic leaders to get their priorities straight, establish a financial structure not based on imaginary numbers and misrepresentation, and that there are, finally, qualified citizens out there willing to do so if they will not.