Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Voters give thumbs-down to Measure G

According to the Sonoma County's Registrar of Voters page, Measure G was voted down 58.8% to 41.2%. Measure G was a complicated proposal for an immediate tax increase to provide much-needed funds for the Russian River Fire Protection District, with authority provided for further raising taxes in the future. I suspect that this authorization clause was responsible for Measure G getting voted down.

However, out of 3,090 registered voters, only 1,320 people actually cast their ballots. With a special election turnout of less than 50%, the "NO" vote doesn't exactly qualify as a resounding public mandate.

I wonder why so few people voted on a measure which has such a potentially huge effect on our safety as well as our wallets, & can only venture the following guesses:
  • Special elections generally have lower turn-outs than general elections;

  • The wording & proposed tax structure for Measure G was confusing for many people -- even folks who actually follow these things in the news, attend meetings, & slog through the documents.

  • An awful lot of people can't afford the additional taxes &/or object to giving RRFPD carte blanche for ultimately quadrupling the levy per risk unit, but simply didn't have the heart to physically cast a ballot against our fire fighters.
Personally, I would have voted Yes, if Measure G had simply requested the $20 per risk unit RRFPD currently needs -- which would have been twice the $10 per risk unit we're paying now. A single family home is assessed at 4 risk units (or a total of $40 per year); businesses are assigned much higher numbers of units (starting with 8 units just for a freaking PARKING LOT). Measure G would have given RRFPD authorization to quadruple the tax amount up to $80 per unit without any further votes or public accountability. That's $160 per year for a single-family home & can amount to thousands of dollars per year for some of our local businesses & non-profits.

Ultimately, we River Rats & Rattinas WILL need to raise our taxes in order to adequately provide infrastructure & public services (including our fire department, law enforcement, schools, parks & recreation, social services, health services, etc.). But first, we seriously need to work on developing our local economy so that folks have enough money to afford these necessary tax increases.

I'm sorry, RRFPD, but you can't squeeze blood from a stone. Most of us are struggling to pay for gas, catch up on this winter's electric & propane bills, afford the increasing cost of buying groceries, & keep up with the ridiculously high level of property taxes we currently pay to the County. These are all baseline expenses which don't allow much wiggle room. Man, we all could seriously use a RAISE.

For more information about Measure G & related links, please read my previous post, No on Measure G!.

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