Letters to the Editor Aug. 31, 2011

By Del Norte Triplicate Readers August 31, 2011 05:12 pm

Klamath Fire didn’t get funding becauase it asked for too much

Klamath Fire Protection District did not get the tax increase it requested for several reasons, but they can all be summarized by too much, too little and too few.

The “too much” is they asked for way too much in one increase. To increase taxes by 150 percent in such hard economic times is just asking too much. If the district had asked for less, it might have passed.

The “too little” is they gave too little information on why they needed so much more. If they had produced a list of costs for equipment maintenance, training, operational expenses and reserve needs, they might have been able to justify the request. But they did not. Property owners were asked to vote without any facts or figures on how the money would be spent. The vague answers of “training costs” and “equipment maintenance” were never detailed or even given a total dollar amount.

And the “too few” is they are taxing too few people to pay for too many who don’t pay the fire tax. Only property owners who pay Del Norte County property tax would have to shoulder the tax hike. All tribal property not on the tax rolls is exempt, including the Pem-Mey gas station and the Yurok Tribal Administration Building. So 380 people would pay to support the Fire Department for everyone in Klamath.

Lt. Witvoet lamented that it was a real bummer that the two largest stakeholders, with 110 votes, should have so much power over the outcome. But what she didn’t comment on were the other 168 votes that disagreed with the tax increase also.

While I agree that the Fire Department needs an increase to keep current, I cannot in good conscience vote to burden so few taxpayers for so much money with so little information. The Fire Department has told us that the new casino will be paying a fairly large amount sometime in the near future. If that is true, then that should cover the increase they were asking for without over-burdening those who are already paying.

Lorna Livingtree