Last week, friends asked my wife and me to join them in Brookings and do some shopping. As the perpetual cheerleader for Crescent City, I asked them what's up there in Brookings that we don't have in Crescent City.

"Roger, I go up there every week, fill up my gas tank at Fred Meyer and do a little shopping. There's no sales tax!"

I suspect there are many in our community who regularly travel to Oregon for the very same reason. Anybody with a vehicle knows one can drive the 20-plus miles to save up to 60 cents a gallon. It bothers me California is so grossly uncompetitive with the zero-sales tax state of Oregon. Gasoline or diesel fuel sold in Del Norte and Humboldt counties is the highest-priced petroleum in the lower 48.

I must admit I do occasionally fill up my tank in Oregon, but I am

reasonably loyal to Joe's Chevron on Highway 101 North. Joe keeps my

truck running perfectly. Plus, he's a great guy and I take my business

to him, accordingly.

Who isn't looking to save money? These are hard times in America,

California, and Crescent City. Lots of folks are out of work. I continue

to be disappointed by Governor Jerry Brown, the Assembly, and the

Senate, who believe the only way to fix California's problems is to levy

more taxes. As I write this commentary, the governor is promoting yet

another "temporary" sales tax increase of andfrac12; cent which would raise the

tax in Del Norte County to 7.75 percent.

To quantify the increased rate, for every $1,000 in purchases one

makes in Del Norte County, one will pay an additional $5, added to the

$72.50 in California state sales tax due. Is that enough of an incentive

to make you want to buy tires in Oregon?

In some of California's other 57 counties, the rate may approach 10

percent. In addition, the governor wants to surcharge those who earn at

least $250,000 on state income tax. More taxes are not the answer.

Cutting entitlements for illegal immigrants and their native-born

children, and removing worthless, duplicative agencies and commissions

are some of the answers that will turn California in another direction.

I am going to take a polar opposite position on this issue. The

Golden State needs to start behaving competitively and demonstrate

business-friendly practices.

Is it now time for border county Del Norte to demand Sacramento

designate Del Norte County a sales tax-free county? Due to our geography

and state of contiguousness with Curry County, I believe the time has

come to declare our county a state tax-free haven, a mecca for small


The concept of a tax-free enterprise zone exemption is not a new one.

In 1967, Senator Robert Kennedy introduced this idea to stimulate

growth in America's inner cities with the assumption that employers

would respond positively to tax incentives and reduced government

regulation. Why couldn't this concept work for rural Del Norte County,

which currently endures an unemployment rate of 13.2 percent (the real

rate is near double that). If this enterprise zone can work in

economically devastated areas of our large cities, why couldn't it work

in hard-pressed, cash-strapped Del Norte County?

I harbor a healthy dose of skepticism that all the taxes collected by

Sacramento actually end up helping the people. Other than perpetuating

the over-regulated and onerous state government system whose family of

agencies, boards, and commissions total near 600, I can tell you those

taxes you involuntarily render to Sacramento actually accomplish little

in solving California's fiscal problems, except to support the

self-serving interests of the bloated state bureaucracy.

Environmentally, is there a difference between the gallon of gasoline

Brookings sells and the gallon of gas Crescent City sells? And what

about the special additives (which you pay for at the pump) California

mandates oil refiners place in the California-sold gasoline for the

purpose of keeping our air clean? Are those additives in the California

fuel just phony science? Again, I would be challenged to tell you the

additive-less gas in Oregon fouls the air in Brookings, Gold Beach,

Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass or anywhere in the Beaver State.

I favor removing much of these wasteful taxes (and subsequent fraud)

from the federal and state system, and allow Del Norte County and

Crescent City to implement its own tax collection system whose sole

purpose it is to derive the necessary revenues and keep our community

vibrant and growing. Just as all politics is local, all taxation should

likewise be local. What a novel, refreshing idea it is which would

permit the Crescent City Council or the Del Norte County Board of

Supervisors to implement their own tax system.

It's obvious our remote, sparsely populated county is going to

realize less and less assistance from Sacramento. That writing is on the

wall. Crescent City and Del Norte County need to look out for


Roger Gitlin is Crescent City resident.