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Snow removal tax: Give our workers the tools they need

Even with the Tahoe autumn chill in the air, the kids going back to school and the tourists disappearing from South Tahoe’s streets, it can be difficult to think ahead to the slick, snow-covered roads that seemed to stick with us all last winter, and will inevitably return within a couple months.

Unless you are a South Lake Tahoe snow-removal worker.

They know all too well that day when they have to dust off their ancient snow-removal plows and blowers is just around the corner. And like recent years, they are preparing to deal with whatever God throws at us with equipment that is sometimes cobbled together from used and custom parts because that’s the best they can do with a shrinking budget (relative to inflation).

Voters have an opportunity in November to brighten the outlook of our city’s snow-removal workers, and the safety of our streets by passing Measure R, a proposal that would double the annual snow-removal parcel fee from $20 per year to $40 a year to raise approximately $440,000 to pay for much-needed equipment.

The current $20 tax has provided adequate funding for this purpose in the past, but after 16 years, inflation and other rising costs means $20 isn’t going to cut it much longer. And all it will take to illustrate the need is a heavy snow season, coupled with severe equipment failures. That’s not a stretch considering that much of the equipment dates back three decades.

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The new tax is also geared to keep up with inflation for the future. If passed, it would be adjusted annually for inflation, with a cap of 3 percent per year. And the money is specifically allocated for the purchase, operation and maintenance of snow-removal equipment.

In a citywide survey earlier this year, residents cited snow removal as a top priority. Even those voters weary from recent tax hikes should see that the city’s snow-removal operation deserves special consideration.

So let’s give the city the tools it needs to meet our needs to ensure roads are safe when the big storms hit. We may not feel it yet, but winter’s coming fast.


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