Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Commentary by Samuel Strait – November 4, 2022

Since Measures T and U qualified for the November Ballot, the City and
County have issued a steady stream of pleas to voters to maintain the
additional Sales Tax Hike in order for both governments to “maintain”
vital services.  Now that we have had the increased sales tax collected
for over a year and a half, it is time to see who it is exactly that
benefits from nearly six million in additional tax revenue and who was
most likely to have paid the tax.  Most items that any local resident
pays for, including non taxable items, pay the increased one percent
sales tax in one form or another.  There is literally no escape from the
levy of the increased tax, whether it’s on the item when purchased or on
the transportation bringing the item to a store for you to purchase. 
Those that reside in the County year around pay most of the tax.

In return we have received from local governments, a raise for all
employees.  Have you as a voter received a pay raise other than that of
the mandated minimum wage increase in January of 2021?   Both
governments have hired additional employees to lessen the “burden” for
local government employees.  Have you had your boss hire additional
employees to make your job easier in the last eighteen months?  Both
governments have hired the new employees to improve and retain vital
services.  Has your employer hired anyone in the last year and a half to
improve and retain “vital” services in the business that you are
employed?  The County and City have maintained that increasing wages and
benefits, plus incentives for new hires will allow both the County and
City to hire sought after deficiencies in their work force of which they
have been unable to hire in the immediate past.  Has your place of
employment experienced staff shortages and been unable to be fully
staffed during the past eighteen months?

I would venture to guess that the answer to all the above questions are
not what either government would want to hear.  Not only has County and
City governments placed themselves before all else in Del Norte County,
but have used the sales tax money for many expenditures of questionable 
nature.  Hiring of employees using the tax money before vacant general
fund positions are filled.  Hiring employees that have questionable
connections to Police, Fire, and Emergency Services, such as at Animal
Control, Code Enforcement, Planning, and Grant Writing to name a few.
Spending very few sales tax dollars on imperative and immediate
infrastructure issues.  Showy theater, to falsely claim that
infrastructure repairs made are “vital” rather that done to influence
voting in November.   Money spent on projects that are hardly vital in
the name of dressing up the City and County with showy monuments to
“attract” tourism, thus failing to understand such projects will only
require substantial future  costs to maintain.

While this may seem like the City and County have “honored” their
commitment to improve “vital services”, what has really come of the
expenditure of the sales tax from both governments.  Can any one outside
of government cheer leaders claim ANY improvement of services or that
the service would disappear if the funding was repealed?  Can any one
claim that Animal Services, Code Enforcement, the Sheriff’s Department,
Fire, or the now top heavy Emergency services suddenly became better at
dispensing their “vital” services, or has service surprisingly remained
much the same?   Will spending the sales tax revenue on trash service
for the homeless result in any change to that particular problem? Will
the continued theft of tax payer money, in the form of the local sales
increase, by the defeat of the tax repeal change the dynamic of
government waste in both governments?   Other than those that benefit
most from the sales tax revenue, nothing either government has done,
improved services, or substantially corrected the millions of dollars in
deferred maintenance that both governments have allowed to accumulate
after years of focusing on growing government, not that which benefits
those they are meant to serve.

I could go on nearly endlessly pointing to dysfunction at both the City
and the County, yet the point of this is to focus on the fact that local
residents have paid a steep price to continue to be serviced by
government departments that are hardly up to the task of providing
competent and vital services.  Both State and Federal policies have
created a financial train wreck, upon which the County and City have
piled on in the name of being beneficial to the citizens in this
County.  The local governments have not been successful in creating a
trustworthy record of achievement with the sales tax revenue in the past
eighteen months to justify its continuation.   Vote YES  on both
Measures T and U to lower sales tax and ask both governments to improve
services next time before asking the voters to approve a burden in a
time of privation.  That’s YES on T and U!

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