Humboldt County Measures on the Ballot for School Taxes and Bonds – Times-Standard

In November, Humboldt County voters will decide the fate of several new ballot measures, with most deciding whether to raise or keep taxes.

Arcata voters will see two local measures on their ballot: one that proposes placing an Earth flag above all other flags on city-owned flagpoles, and another that would maintain a tax on existing public services.

Measure L, the tax initiative, would maintain the 3% municipal tax on utility users and 45% excessive electricity users until 2036, which in fiscal years 2022 to 2023 is expected to generate a combined total of approximately $1 million in the city’s general fund. Excessive electricity use occurs when usage exceeds 600% of the basic allowance, and according to the city, 0.6% of Arcata residents had to pay this tax.

The general fund can be used for municipal activities such as street and park maintenance, policing programs, recreation programs and economic development.

Measure M, the flag initiative, has dubious legality. In an unbiased summary, City Attorney Nancy Diamond noted that California has laws against flying other flags above the stars and stripes.

In the flag argument, proponent of the measure David Meserve argues that the law is advisory only and contains no penalties for violations.

“Flags are symbols. Accelerating climate change threatens all life on Earth, so we must make the health of the Earth our first priority and take meaningful action to slow and reverse global warming,” Meserve wrote. “We can only have a healthy nation if we have a healthy Earth. Let us remember this goal by displaying the flag of the Earth on top. »

However, opposing the placement of the flag, several signatories argued that even beyond the potential legal challenges Arcata might face, placing the Earth flag atop the masts would be disrespectful.

“Lowering the flag at half mast to honor the dead of a national tragedy or for a specific person has been the tradition for over two centuries,” the signatories wrote. “Adding a flag above the national flag would break this honorable tradition. We do not believe that changing this symbol of honor and condolence should be rushed without a long and vigorous discussion.

In Ferndale, voters will decide whether or not to pass Measure N, a 0.75% sales tax, which, if passed, is expected to raise about $104,000 a year for city services. It would expire in 2031.

Mayor Don Hindley penned the argument for the levy, saying the funding was needed for the Ferndale Police Department.

“To recruit and retain quality agents, Ferndale must offer compensation that rivals neighboring jurisdictions, all of which have larger budgets,” Hindley wrote. “If the city doesn’t stay competitive, our department is experiencing higher turnover rates and needs to ask more of our veterans and retirees.” Ferndale also needs to upgrade its aging equipment. »

Arguing against the tax, Kent Sawatzky and the Humboldt Taxpayers League wrote that new taxes are unnecessary and would be open to a lower, more narrowly defined tax.

“Please join fellow ratepayers and the upcoming Humboldt County Ratepayers League election in developing a one-half cent sales tax specifically for roads (maintenance), trails (maintenance), and parks ( interview) with a voter (surveillance) every 5 years and a citizen review. Committee. This would qualify the City of Ferndale for state funding and matching grants,” Sawatzky and the league wrote.

Rio Dell voters will decide whether to approve Measure O, which would reduce the city’s sales tax from 1% to 0.75%, which would take effect in 2025. The sales tax is scheduled to expire in 2024.

Measure P in Trinidad asks voters to approve an increase in the Transitional Occupancy Tax for hotel owners and short-term rental operators from eight to twelve percent. The Trinidad City Council illegally increased the tax in 2011 without voter approval, and the current council recently reduced the tax to pre-2011 levels at 8%.

The measure should add approximately $65,000 annually to the city’s general fund.

Trinidad City Council has argued for a tax hike, noting it comes on top of money for law enforcement, maintenance, firefighters and other services municipal.

“Measure P is paid by short-term rental customers who stay at vacation rentals, hotels and bed and breakfasts within the city limits of Trinidad. This measure ensures that out-of-town visitors pay their fair share for local services,” the council wrote.

Mike Morgan, former board member and owner of the Trinidad Bay Bed and Breakfast, opposed the increase, citing economic instability and inflation that are hurting tourists and businesses.

“With the highest inflation in decades and a recession that could lead to depression, raising taxes and spending is the exact opposite of what would help our economic crisis,” Morgan wrote.

In Blue Lake, Measure R would add a 1% sales tax, which should add $25,000 per year to the town’s general fund.

Mayor Adelene Jones argued that the sales tax would provide much-needed funds for the city’s recreational activities and public safety services such as the police.

“As the city continues to provide recreational opportunities and we add new facilities to our community, it is essential that we provide the support necessary to keep them safe and in good repair,” Jones wrote. “As the city attracts new retail investment to our community, a dedicated Blue Lake sales tax will ensure resources stay in our community and help support the features and facilities most impacted by increased usage. .”

Sawatzky and the league wrote the counter-argument, again citing their opposition to a new tax.

“Now is not the right time for a tax increase or a new tax,” Sawatzky and the league wrote. “Please ask the city if this new 1% tax applies to your online purchases like Amazon? Or the purchase of your new vehicle?

In Ferndale, voters will choose the fate of Measure Q, which, if passed, would issue $7.7 million in bonds for the school district and impose a rate of $60 per $100,000 of assessed value as long as the bonds are outstanding.

Jackson Guilfoil can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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