By Investigative Reporter, Linda Sutter – June 28, 2023
The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) held a meeting this morning while everyone was at work. The meeting was to raise your property taxes through the sewer user fee. It was brought to the attention of the board members that people had not received the letter that was sent out to affected property addresses, but, three supervisors turned a deaf ear.
Those three supervisors who increased your property tax without proper notification were Valerie Starkey, Darrin Short, and Joey Borges. Dean Wilson was the only one who understood that due process had not been met. Chris Howard was absent.
The Crescent City-Del Norte Taxpayer’s Association asked that the decision be delayed for 45 days so all property owners would be given an opportunity to have their voices heard. That request was blatantly denied. So the dog and pony show that everyone puts on by saying the pledge of allegiance is just for show because none of those people understand that means fair and equitable hearings and that the hearings should be liberally met.
The audience was sparse and that was intentional because most people are at work from 9 to 5. The hearing was at 9 a.m. The audience that spoke were upset and angry, they were our elderly who are on fixed incomes without any chance of increasing their income 245% in five years to meet this new tax.
The public has a very difficult time in understanding why no reserves have been maintained throughout the years. The public was not given any record or records that identify or quantifies historic or projected reserves needed for the service provided by the district. Nor did anything in the record pledge the net revenue for any specific purpose.
It should be noted if any affected property owners were not notified due to outdated contact information that would render the proposition 218 process procedurally defective. There were names and proof presented at the meeting however, three supervisors turned a blind eye and a deaf ear.
Here are the questions:
1. Why is the county in such a hurry to get this pushed through?
2. Who will be monitoring how the money is spent?
3. Why haven’t there been reserves saved from the past?
None of those questions were allowed or answered.
Lastly, the county informed signature gatherers that if the tenant paid for the sewer and water bill then that person could sign the petition. Only one signature would be counted though. Either the tenants or the property owner but not both.
There was some confusion seemingly perpetrated by the county as to how many signatures would be needed to reach 50% plus 1 to defeat this increase. The County said there were over 3300 connections but approximately 2400 property owners. According to Laura Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs at Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a simple majority protest is comprised of owners, not connections.