Tahoe Chamber announces local ballot measure endorsements (opinion)
Special to the Tribune
The Board of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce (Tahoe Chamber) has announced its position on seven local ballot measures in the City of South Lake Tahoe and Douglas County.
YES ON MEASURE P
Tahoe Chamber embraces both outdoor and indoor recreation as a vital part of our tourism economy. Quality recreation opportunities are equally important for residents and visitors, helping support a healthy, vibrant community. We salute our colleagues in the South Shore lodging industry for their leadership in supporting a two percent increase in the City’s transient occupancy tax (TOT), revenue generated by their guests. We are proud to stand with them and many community organizations and individuals in support of Measure P.
YES ON MEASURE U AND ADVISORY MEASURE R
Visitors pay a significant share of the city’s sales tax, but increasing the sales tax has always been a tougher choice for local residents and business owners. We understand why. In the Chamber’s view, given the three advisory measure choices, we believe increasing the sales tax makes sense if the new revenue generated is used to fund road improvements that are necessary to support our economy and community. The city’s own analysis, and the everyday observations we make as business owners, clearly document the need for a long-term plan for funding road improvements and maintenance.
ADVISORY MEASURES S AND Q (NO)
There is an acute need for affordable housing in our community. However, increasing the sales tax is not the correct choice to help solve the problem, as suggested in Advisory Measure S. City leaders have made it clear they are not in the housing business. The city’s role is one of considering and approving affordable housing developments proposed by those who are in the housing business.
Some people make the case that the city must invest more in city facilities and equipment, including a new city hall, as reflected in Advisory Measure Q. Tahoe Chamber does not believe a sales tax increase is the appropriate source of revenue for these purposes.
NO ON MEASURE T
Measure T is poorly written, misleading and unconstitutionally vague. First and foremost, the US Highway 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project is not a city project and therefore claiming Measure T is a vote on the project is incorrect and misleading. The bottom line is Measure T strips the city’s ability to actively participate and engage in a federal project that has the potential to bring needed infrastructure improvements to the South Shore. For these reasons and more, Measure T is already being challenged in court. Ironically, the first decision the city council will likely consider related to the Highway 50 project is the approval of one or more affordable housing projects. The need for more affordable housing is perhaps the one issue on which there is the broadest agreement in our community. Do city voters want to block affordable housing? Any way you look at it, Measure T makes no sense.
DOUGLAS COUNTY QUESTION 1
The Chamber Board also endorsed a YES vote on Douglas County Question 1, the Fuel Revenue Indexing measure. Like in the city, many roads in Douglas County are in dire need of improvements and consistent maintenance. Some new roads are necessary too. Voter approval of Question 1 will authorize the County Commission to increase the tax on gas, along with diesel fuel, up a maximum of three cents per gallon per year over ten years. A priority list for road improvements has been developed. The advantage of indexing is that the purchasing power of revenues generated will keep pace with inflation.
The Tahoe Chamber Board urges our local governments to develop a comprehensive financing plan. From a business and resident perspective, it is a challenge to be faced with one or more proposed tax increases every election cycle. A comprehensive financing plan should identify current and future funding needs for public infrastructure and services and include proposals for how to address these needs without continuously increasing the local tax burden one election at a time.
The Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce (Tahoe Chamber) is dedicated to developing, promoting and representing the South Shore business community on both sides of the state line as the local chamber of commerce. With over 650 businesses in the South Shore area and beyond, Tahoe Chamber provides resources, programs, services and opportunities to members with the goal to sustain a high quality of life for the community by achieving economic vitality. For more information about Tahoe Chamber, visit http://www.tahoechamber.org.