Arguments against, and rebuttal to the argument for Measure B from the Official Voter Guide

SONOMA COUNTY TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION

s/ Dan Drummond, Executive Director


Download the entire Official Voter Guide for Measure B (PDF)


Argument Against Measure B


Had the Board of Supervisors left Measure B in its original form, we likely would not have opposed it. But a rushed last minute change by the Board gives us reason for pause. As originally drafted, Measure B, a tax on overnight lodging, would have raised money to help beleaguered west county fire and paramedic services. Since visitors account for a disproportionate amount of emergency service calls, it makes sense that they should help pay for those services. But a month before the ballot filing deadline, the equally beleaguered West Sonoma County High School District proposed for consideration the consolidation of El Molino and Analy High Schools to help reduce some if its expenses.


With the deadline bearing down and El Molino supporters rapidly organizing to oppose consolidation, the Board of Supervisors in a split and hasty decision added the high school district to the measure as a 50% beneficiary. The high school district has faced declining enrollment issues for years as housing prices drive young families from the area. Declining enrollment in turn means declining revenue as state funding is largely determined by enrollment levels. The district now finds itself saddled with the expense of maintaining more facilities than it needs.


Facing an annual deficit of nearly $2 million dollars, consolidating some of its underused facilities was an appropriate topic for discussion. In its current form, Measure B diverts half of its proceeds away from fire and paramedic services while funneling them instead to the high school district. The declining enrollment problem doesn’t go away and the consolidation decision is kicked down the road a couple years. Meanwhile, millions of tax dollars will be wasted propping up the struggling school district. It’s your money.


We recommend a No vote on Measure B.


Rebuttal to the Argument For Measure B


We agree. Tourists should pay their fair share of fire and emergency services. Unfortunately, this measure uses half of its money to prop up the struggling West Sonoma County High School District. In addition to this Measure B, the District also wants you to approve Measure A, a separate parcel tax the proceeds of which all go to the District. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


You just approved another parcel tax last year in March, 2020 and a $91 million bond measure in June, 2018. In all, the District wants you to approve four separate tax and bond measures to keep it afloat. The District has for years seen its enrollment figures drop as young families are squeezed out by Sonoma County’s high housing costs.


That reduction in enrollment translates to a corresponding reduction in funding from the state. The problem is the District now has more facilities than it needs given the reduced enrollment figures. Rather than streamlining its operations and eliminating surplus facilities, the District wants you to pay to maintain these no longer needed assets. You’ve been very generous approving earlier tax and bond measures. It’s time for the District to sharpen its pencil and cut its expenses.


You’ve done your part. It’s time for them to do theirs.


Vote No on Measures A and B.




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