Guest column: We need Measure C, vote ‘yes’ (opinion)
November 1, 2017
Ever since we moved to South Lake Tahoe 38 years ago, we have been proud to call this city our home. Between our community spirit of caring and sharing, excellent schools, and the inspiring nature of the lake and mountains, we are truly fortunate to live in such a special place.
We recently hosted our foreign exchange student from 20 years ago and we were proud to show him all of the community upgrades such as Heavenly Village, Lakeview Commons, Harrison Avenue, South Tahoe High School, and the new Whole Foods project.
Although these community upgrades are visible improvements, not everything is perfect in South Lake Tahoe. A persisting problem that plagues our city is the deteriorating state of our aging streets and roads. These failing streets increase vehicle maintenance costs and reduce our quality of life.
Dangerous potholes and cracks must be repaired promptly to improve safety for all residents and visitors to our city. This is why we must support Measure C on the November ballot.
Measure C will fix potholes and pave, maintain and repair local streets and roads. It will improve roadway safety for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, and will provide safe routes to school for children. Not to mention, repairing our roads through Measure C will reduce fine sediment pollution from roads, improving lake clarity and water quality.
We all agree that our roads MUST be repaired, but there is some disagreement as to why Measure C is the best option. But some things seem clear.
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First, we need improvements now. The longer we wait, the more expensive road repairs will become, placing an even bigger burden on our city. Measure C is a solution that will begin repairs immediately, reduce costs through coordination with Southwest Gas and qualify our city for matching funds from the state.
Second, if we want reliable, dedicated road funding, we need to look beyond the city's existing general fund budget. For over 50 years, our city has struggled to pay for the road maintenance, repairs and improvements we've needed. This is because, upon South Lake Tahoe's founding, the city's budget was formatted to prioritize other services like public safety over road repairs.
This means that funding is inconsistent at best and often by default. Measure C provides a dedicated source of consistent funding that is not vulnerable to fluctuations in the city's budget.
Third, Measure C has the highest fiscal accountability standards of any road repair solution. Three-tiered accountability provisions include a legal mandate that funds only be spent on roads in South Lake Tahoe, a Roads Management Authority separate from the City Council that manages funding and an unpaid Citizens' Oversight Committee that supervises road spending.
Essential items and services, like groceries and medicine, are exempt from any costs, and Measure C is the only solution that ensures tourists help pay for their impact on our roads. If you are of the same belief as we are, that the city should be held accountable for all spending, then you will agree that there is no better option for fiscal responsibility than Measure C.
Opposition to Measure C has offered no solution to fixing our roads, other than demanding the City Council re-examine the budget. This is the same group that calls the City Council irresponsible with spending.
Their solution is to leave our roads' future in the hands of the very individuals they say they don't trust to manage funding. This is not a solution at all. We need Measure C — a fiscally-responsible, reliable solution to fix our roads starting now.
Our community has come together to support this important measure, with a coalition including the El Dorado County Taxpayers Association, both the local Democratic and Republican parties, both local chambers of commerce, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and many more all recommending a "Yes" vote on Measure C.
I urge you to join us in making the smart choice for the future of our city. Vote "Yes" on Measure C.
Greg and Jean Bergner are South Lake Tahoe taxpayers.