Napa County has the second highest per-person property tax assessment valuation in the state. Additionally, we are flush with sales and hotel tax revenues resulting from the wine tourists. As a Bay Area community, given our relatively small population base, our local governmental agencies are solid and well funded.
But here we are again at election time faced with yet another unnecessary measure asking us to raise our sales tax. Measure K will be the third time we are being asked for a new tax to increase funding for the county Parks and Open Space District. I guess we will just have to keep voting 'no' on it until they get our message.
Currently, the Parks and Open Space district is adequately funded by the county and is doing a fine job taking in approximately $900,000 a year from the hotel occupancy tax. The proposed additional sales tax increase is estimated to provide $9 million a year, a 10-fold increase. This is more money than is needed. Remember, we funded the entire Flood Control district with a half-cent sales tax increase.
Proponents of the new tax want you to believe:
It will protect our drinking water
-- Over the years, we have already approved the Agricultural Preserve, Flood Control Measure A and numerous bonds statewide to do so;
-- The county's Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance), recently updated in April 2019, already provides for this. In fact, the cover of a recent Open Space District flyer shows the same “Blue Line Streams” map as is included in the ordinance;
Reduce the impacts of wildfire
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-- The state is on an aggressive campaign actively managing our forest;
Protect natural open spaces
-- We have the Agricultural Preserve and thousands of acres zoned Agricultural Watershed in the Berryessa/Knoxville areas of the county providing us with more open spaces than other Bay Area counties.
Some city officials have listed their endorsement on the recent campaign flyer we just received. They were motivated to do so because they are dealt in to get a portion the new tax. How will providing more of your money within our city limits improve our water quality and protect us from forest fires?
Our sales taxes are already high enough and bolstered by the robust tourist industry. Asking for more when it is just not needed is being greedy.
If we really want to improve open space, parks and recreation amenities, let's all focus our efforts on restoring and improving Lake Berryessa.
For a third time, I urge you vote 'no' on Measure K.
Tom Orlando, Director
Napa County Taxpayers Association
Former mayor and council member, American Canyon
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