Most of the choices made by the San Benito County Supervisors could be made by anyone at any time; the staff does the work, usually as prescribed by law or contract, they then make a recommendation and the supervisors just rubber-stamp it. The result is millions here and millions there – stamp, stamp, stamp.
The supervisor’s real work should come in setting policies, priorities, and making judgment calls in a timely manner, but these actions require the officials to get out front with an eye in the future. Getting out front, especially in a timely manner, is not the strong suit of this board; they always seem to be up against the calendar and the tax issues are no different.
The most elementary election plan has to have a timetable, at this late date questions such as, “how much time do we have?” are more than disconcerting, they reveal a fundamental flaw in the planning and decision-making processes.
When it came to endorsing SB 1, the massive state transportation tax, the majority couldn't wait to sign up because someone else would bear the wrath of the voters for getting less than one-third of the funding back to the county for local roads while a $2.1 million collapsed fiasco sits on Highway 25 near the entrance to Pinnacles National Park as a monument to Caltrans’ incompetence.
Narrowing the local tax options to something that works for county residents is another thing altogether; it needs a commitment. Judgment calls are a measure of leadership, you can’t run away from them and you can’t be late.
The board has been squawking about the county’s lack of revenue for as long as I can remember, but they have not had a business license tax or even a general fee for more than 20-years. Keep in mind that they do not know, officially, how many and what types of businesses are in their jurisdiction.
There are reasons that the three easiest tax measures – the Business License Fee/Tax, the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and the $1 a year Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Fee Program to rid us of junk cars – fail in San Benito County. The reasons are the board’s lack of conviction, poor timing, inability and unwillingness to effectively communicate with the public and special interests. If you’re afraid of offending the electorate you shouldn't have the job.
We should have started the discussion about this election cycle and campaign more than a year ago with a deadline and a plan. We cannot turn back the clock, but only the foolish keep making the same mistakes and expect anything but the same unsatisfactory results. The SBC Board of Supervisors needs to get off that treadmill to nowhere and change the way they work; the future starts every day.
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