Ribaudo column: Measure C makes sense (opinion)
October 26, 2017
Let's face it: Nobody loves taxes. But if taxes are needed, then it's preferable for others to pay it. So why the dust-up over Measure C? Measure C is on the ballot for this November, and the proceeds would go for a variety of road improvements within the city of South Lake Tahoe. While I am not crazy about taxes, I think this one, if properly administered, will work more like a capital investment in our town to improve the needed roads infrastructure.
Let's start from the premise that we have seen what new roads and sidewalks can do for our community. One only has to look at how Caltrans' work has dramatically improved the look of the community with new sidewalks and road repair. The community looks much better, and the roads are in much better shape. Even better, the added tax imposed by Measure C is levied on retail purchases, including those made by visitors who will pay as much as 70 percent of the tax — a figure put forward by the city.
But there are those in the city who don't support Measure C for a variety of reasons, so let's look at those reasons.
First, a sales tax hurts those at the lower end when the taxes are collected. On a percentage basis this is true. A sales tax is a regressive tax, which taxes lower-income people at a higher rate of their income than it does someone with a higher income. That being said, the higher income household that spends more would contribute more money.
While it's a valid argument, in reality, the amount paid by lower-income households will be a little bit more of their income. On a family that spends $5,000 on taxable items the extra ½ percent would be an extra $25, less than 10 cents a day.
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Second, some oppose the tax because past City Councils have not managed their budgets appropriately and prioritized road maintenance. Fair enough. What City Council has managed their budget to everyone's satisfaction? None. Anywhere in this country, I would suspect. This measure provides plenty of safeguards that these funds will be spent on exactly what they should be. The ballot measure restricts where the money can be spent, and there is an oversight committee to make sure funds go where they are supposed to go.
Here is the reality: We need road improvements, and the cost of these improvements will continue to go up. There is no dispute about this, and residents should not bear the full cost of these improvements. That is precisely what will happen if those who oppose Measure C have their way.
What those who oppose Measure C don't do is give this community a good reason as to why we should let these costs continue to increase and why residents should pay for these improvements out of the general fund.
Those who oppose Measure C are simply adding tens of millions of dollars in road maintenance costs to the burden of residents. Because using their logic, past City Councils have not prioritized road maintenance. Really? It's a terrible idea. Listen to both sides and think about it before casting your vote. But do cast a ballot.
If you haven't yet, check out the fall colors in Hope Valley. This annual show of colors is back and is not to be missed.
I hope by the time this editorial hits the paper the City Council has made a decision on VHRs. Their continual inability to make a big decision really shakes my confidence. Councilman Jason Collin asking to make data-driven decisions is legitimate, but it sums it up for me. It's a nice sound bite, but if the Council does not have the data it needs to make a decision at this point in time then shame on them.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at email@example.com.