No on Measure A: We can’t afford another tax |

No on Measure A: We can’t afford another tax

Jeff Williams

Times are tough. We all have to keep a keen eye on our budgets; we all have to do more with less. We are facing a continual decline in our local resident population and a concurrent downturn in our national and local economy. Local businesses are struggling, and there are many vacant commercial properties.

Many of us are having to make difficult financial decisions every day, yet our school system, with its bloated bureaucracy and declining enrollment, is telling us that they simply can’t go without more money for new structures. Many of us live and work in older structures that have related issues, and they must be maintained and repaired continually. However, our schools have dedicated too much money to the cost of labor and benefits, and have not properly maintained the buildings, and now they come, once again with hat in hand, asking for millions more.

They say, “If we don’t do this now, we’ll lose the state matching funds!” In case you hadn’t heard, the state is facing a $16 billion budget shortfall. Just where do you think that money in matching funds is coming from – if it even comes at all?

The priorities here are questionable as well: green construction, auto repair and performing arts? Not so long ago, if you wanted a career in construction (green or otherwise), you started as a gopher, and after a little while you could learn to swing a hammer and run a circular saw under the tutelage of a journeyman carpenter. If you wanted to learn about cars, auto shop might have been fun, but you really needed to scrape up enough money to buy yourself a clunker and then learn to turn your own wrenches. Performing arts? OK, let’s prioritize our needs. How much do we need stagecraft? There are many private arts schools for those who may wish to pursue those goals; could they please not do it on the overburdened taxpayer’s back?

If we had unlimited resources, this might be a different argument, but this is a time of belt-tightening for everyone. With the yet-undetermined impact of the new Indian casino due to open soon in Shingle Springs and a massive statewide deficit, it’s time for the public sector, including our public school system, to participate in our difficult collective economic situation. Why is it that we common citizens may have less money to work with, but government institutions never seem to suffer the same fate?

The working and middle class is under great pressure, and the straws on the proverbial camel’s back are piling up quickly. This additional tax may not be a great amount in and of itself, but it is on top of so many other mounting expenses. This tax will increase every year and last a very, very long time. We need to demand fiscal accountability from our local educational establishment; they must exist under the same fiscal constraints which the rest of us endure. We’re all in the same leaky economic boat, but while some of us are doggedly bailing the water out, others are busy drilling holes to let more in. Vote no on Measure A.

– Jeff Williams is a South Lake Tahoe resident.

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