On the Issues

Roads and Public Transportation

It costs $3 or $4 Million a year to keep our 129 miles of road in good shape. Our City budget has never had this amount annually to repair and replace roads as needed. In 2017 our Council approved, and I co-chaired the sales tax initiative to find an ongoing source of funding that would repair, replace and retain our roads. It would have cost the average resident about $25 to $50 a year. In addition, about 70% would have been sales tax brought in by our visitors and tourists. It needed a 66.7% to pass, as it was designated for roads, and we failed with about a 56% yes vote. The Council just recently directed our staff to set aside some undesignated funds from our 2017-18 budget and to look at possible funding sources to be able to fund $9 Million of road work in the next three years. We do not know if this feasible or doable. This would possibly mean looking at bonding opportunities, cuts to other priorities or looking at our reserves which are currently 25%. Both LTUSD and LTCC had successful bond measures for their facility improvement. Other ideas to explore may be to look at a visitor tax or fee as our tourists have a huge impact (quite literally!) on our roads each year. Finding money for roads has traditionally been difficult but we will continue looking for solutions.


Workforce and Affordable Housing

I would like to see a a 2020 to 2040 vision plan adopted during the next four years, working with all of our partners that would include workforce/ local housing and low income housing as well, with a sustainable, supportable and convenient public transit to accompany it. Cities have an obligation to look at housing and our city has the opportunity and obligation, I believe to take this leadership/ support role to determine the level of need and possible direction and solution for affordable, local and workforce housing. Our businesses need employees, our employees need housing, our community needs a strong economy. Our community of residents and families who work here, also need to be able to live here, have their children go to school here. Our LTCC students and our seasonal workers, as well, should have affordable and appropriate housing.

VHRs

The number one issue facing the City is the future of our VHR policy and the economic impact, should it pass, of a citizens initiative on the November ballot. If this initiative passes, it will begin to have an effect to the City budget as the transient occupancy taxes (TOT), sales tax and property taxes. Businesses, contract workers, and other employees that are supported through jobs may also be affected. If the initiative is successful, our City will need to adjust our budget, which would mean reducing our staff and services and seeking alternative revenue sources in this tourist driven economy.

If the initiative passes and VHRs are fazed out over the next three years, I will work with Council, City staff and our community, to look at alternative options for keeping our budget sustainable, our tourist economy vibrant and our locals employed. I would encourage the City to look at our tourist core area, where VHRs are allowed, and at other potential avenues for revenue for the City. We as a Council are bound by a fiduciary responsibility to have a balanced budget and we would need to study, address and reduce our budget as warranted. If the initiative fails, it will continue to be a Council policy that will and will be reviewed, evaluated, changed and adapted as needed.


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