By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – June 29, 2021
A recently passed 14% increase on local sales tax was passed by the
City’s voters by a significant margin in which most of the County’s
voters had little to say about it and will no doubt be expected to reach
in their pockets as well. By a much narrower margin, the same 14%
increase was passed to match the City’s venture into relieving citizens
of their hard earned money. While the increased revenue is to be
delivered to both the City and County’s general fund certain promises
were made as to how the money was to be spent, no guarantees, of course,
wink, wink. An appointed “advisory board” likely to never be heard from
again, is to be appointed to monitor the expenditures and “report” back
to the community whether they agree with the decisions of the advisory
board or not. The increases will go on until the voting public goes
through the laborious process of rescinding the increases by vote after
it is revealed that both governments are not the best vehicles for
spending tax payer moneys.
Granted the City did admit to be looking to spend a significant portion
of their share of the sales tax windfall on the local pool, or rather
the local financial “black hole” pool. Current estimates seem to place
this boon doggle as eating up a substantial portion of the City’s
increased revenue, no doubt balanced out somewhat by the fact that the
“black hole pool” costs will no longer come strictly out of the City’s
General fund alone. Perhaps that relief from the pool’s costs might be
used to further Mayor Pro Tem Blake Inscore’s “cultural vacations” in
the future where he can invite Supervisor Howard, Bill Steven, and
Superintendent Harris to join him.
Putting all that aside, it would appear that the City has formulated a
“Plan” to reopen the local pool, begun scheduling activities and set a
new fee schedule. A quick review of the fee schedule shows that
swimming at the pool is not cheap, particularly if you plan to swim
regularly, or are a child. The City has made the effort to attract the
youth by offering “free” swim lessons actually paid by the local
Healthcare District or the taxpayer in reality, but will this really
generate the necessary funding to support this ambitious undertaking?
In larger population centers perhaps, but Del Norte County does not have
a massive swimming population to support the pool sufficiently and
likely will continue to drain the City’s coffers.
Couple the swimming pool with the City’s obsession with Front Street
Park and surroundings and you have two, count them , two losing
propositions. The “new” city hall could conceivably suck up more of the
City’s windfall, money to police, fire, emergency services, and
vacations to Japan should round out the City’s wish list. No wait,
solar power for the pool and smart meters should round out the list.
Naturally, fixing the financial disaster of the waste water treatment
plant is no where on the “to do” list or making water and sewer rates
more affordable. But Hey, saving those two for the next sales tax hike.