Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Commentary by Samuel Strait – October 16, 2022

As much as I respect the opinions of Roger Gitlin in his weekly column
in the Triplicate, he is after all entitled to them, I respectfully
disagree with his latest effort, Eye on Del Norte, “Don’t let some of
the letters of the alphabet confuse you”. Within the article is his
articulated opinion of the impending November 8th ballot measures “T”
and “U”, vote NO on “T” and YES on “U”.  He goes on to say he opposed
both measures when the sales tax was raised on both the City and County
residents in 2020, then on the basis of a single comment in a City
Council meeting has changed his mind on repealing the City’s sales tax
increase.

I am left confused by his reasoning, as he seems to think that the
City’s use of the sales tax money is somehow more beneficial to its
residents than that of the County.  Let us begin with the impression he
has left us with which is a commenter at a City Council meeting objected
to the new equipment being purchased by the Police Chief, Richard
Griffin, some how implies that police officers will be “less safe” using
existing equipment.  How is it that existing equipment has anything to
do with officer safety, unless they are currently operating with
defective equipment, which is hardly the case.  Just exactly how is it
that the commenter is misinformed and new equipment in this highly
inflationary period isn’t questionable and wasteful?  What does that
have anything to do with questioning the accepted notion that policing
is highly perilous and dangerous?  It does not sound like police
officers were being asked to go weaponless or without vehicles, merely
the optics of new equipment at this time when local City residents are
struggling with high cost and higher taxation could be viewed as
wasteful and unnecessary.

Roger, if he will pardon my familiarity, goes on to talk about his
satisfaction that “funds are not being squandered”.  Crescent Fire and
Rescue has been graced with nearly $600 thousands dollars of Measure “S”
money half of it budgeted to hire three fire captain and a part time
fire chief to replace ONE part time Chief.  Granted they did receive
some necessary equipment that could have been paid for in the City’s
general fund rather than giving the City’s employees a 3% raise at the
beginning of 2022. The Police department invested more than half their
Measure “S” in new equipment which was discussed above, the remainder
has been utilized to bribe current officers and those being trained not
to abandon ship at the first opportunity.  The new officers which are
currently attending the police academy will be unlikely to offer any
improvement to service for years to come.  Those already employed were
formerly accounted for by the City’s general fund, that was until
Measure”S” funding became available.  This recent maneuvering in the
general fund miraculously allowed the City to find $750,000 from the
general fund to insert into the two block Front Street Project.  Likely
one of many miracles that occurred following the receipt of the sales
tax increase.

Street improvements, if you exclude the extravaganza of Front Street,
consist of a “theater” of highly visible streets that in no way would be
considered a priority for immediate repair.  The signs, advertising this
theater, set the City’s election spin machine back $7,000 and the
flashing lights at the street side of each project could be considered a
“road hazard” for motorists. And that leaves the Fred Endert Pool which
will be costing the City currently $375,000 per year and increasing into
the future just to keep the doors open for a small county population of
27,000 citizens and shrinking, where only a tiny fraction of that
population actually uses the pool.  Unfortunately the high school
popularity version infused in 60% of the City’s electorate do not
understand that a community pool in a community of this size is an
extravagant luxury that most will infrequently or never use, but
continue to pay “big dollars for” while the streets and street lights in
front of their houses disintegrate by the day.

While Mr. Gitlin fastens on the fact that Measure”S” represents 20% of
the usable portion of the general fund, it actually only represents less
than 5% of the over all budget of $44 million. This is a budget that has
more than doubled in the past decade and is unlikely to decline any time
soon.  The notion that the funding of Front Street and Beach Front Park,
set to cost $30 plus million by the time most features are in place,
completely ignores the tiny detail of what it will take to maintain such
extravagance. As far as the misguided notion that Crescent City will
become a “destination resort” or it as a flourishing small town, there
are a number of missing ingredients for that to even be a fantasy.
Namely a nearby large population center, a benign climate, and
sufficient capital to make the kind of improvements necessary.  I
suppose when you put the ox before the cart, those trivialities are
hardly worth mentioning.

The biggest problem with what Mr. Gitlin has outlined, is that neither
the City nor the County have employed their funding in a sensible
fashion, nor will they.  The arguments Roger has outlined for why the
County’s sales tax should be reduced are equally applicable for the
City.  Both have squandered their share of the sales tax funding with no
visible improvement of services to most of the local population.  The
County and City both speak to the dysfunction within their governments
and have no viable solutions to any of the issues that they claim to
have.  Growing government, which both have done with a zeal, is
completely irresponsible for an area that has its citizens screaming for
relief from the burdens of government taxation and government induced
inflation. Loosing tax dollars to Brookings is but a symptom of the
growing crisis local residents are facing, and retaining even the impact
of an increased sales tax in Del Norte County and the City is having an
enormous effect on the ability of many in the area to simply survive.

While I am genuinely sorry to say this, but voting to retain the City’s
share of the sales tax revenue is to reward the City for its appallingly
bad behavior towards those that they represent. There can be no mistake
that the “No vote crowd” who have posted their ignorance through out the
City have no compassion for the many that are severely affected by the
damage to their livelihood by both sales tax increases.  Clearly they
have the means to survive, the same can’t be said for many of those that
live within the County or City.  Vote YES to lower the sales tax on
Measures “T” and “U”.  A YES vote on both T and U LOWERS the Sales Tax,
a No vote keeps you paying more.

One thought on “Has Roger Gitlin been duped by the City’s Use of Measure S?”
  1. Excellent points, Sam. There is plenty of cutting to be done to balance budgets.
    A Republican in good standing should never advocate for tax increases.
    Shame on you, Roger!

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