Yes on Measure A: It’s time to do right thing |

Yes on Measure A: It’s time to do right thing

James Tarwater

South Lake Tahoe voters have an important choice to make Tuesday when we go to the polls. We can vote yes on Measure A and make a considerable investment in our community by investing in our schools. Or we can vote no and allow the current infrastructure to continue to deteriorate.

Many of us have been attracted to this community for its obvious beauty and year-round recreation opportunities, but our children’s education is also a major factor in our decision to live here. Whether you have children or not, it is hard to deny that quality schools attract families and increase property values.

After talking with many people in the community over the past few months, two issues have surfaced – trust and taxes. It seems that, because of past history with bond measures, people do not trust that the money will be spent as intended, and people do not want to pay more taxes. We cannot go back and change history, but we can assure the community that we will be accountable over the next several years if we are given that chance. Proposition 39 requires a Citizens’ Oversight Committee to ensure accountability. The proposition was designed and supported by the anti-tax Jarvis-Gann camp. It was approved by voters in 2000 and lowered the pass vote from a two-thirds majority to give KÐ12 school districts the option to seek a 55 percent “supermajority” for approval of local bonds for school construction. It allows communities to invest in their schools while ensuring accountability through financial and performance audits, and funds can only be spent on projects listed in the bond measure.

As superintendent of schools, working on behalf of the Board of Education, staff and the community of South Lake Tahoe, I have an obligation to provide the best possible education for our clients – the students. There is never a “right time” to increase taxes, but now is the time to do the “right thing.” The opportunity to bring $15.4 million in matching dollars into our community may not happen again for years to come.

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The district’s tax base is primarily resort/timeshare (61 percent), and some of the biggest taxpayers in that industry, along with many local residents, have reviewed the measure and support it. The South Tahoe Association of Realtors has also endorsed the measure, because they feel that “an investment in the schools and children will translate in time to a stronger community as a whole.”

We need to re-establish trust with the community and our children will believe in us.

– James R. Tarwater is superintendent of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

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