“I think you know this – I’m just being candid with you – I ran on a pledge not support any increase in taxes,” Bach told Nissa Steinhour, who serves on the board of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, and other park advocates.
“To me, this is tantamount to surrendering to, in my opinion, inefficient, ineffective government,” the mayor said.
But Steinhour, who appeared before city and county officials Wednesday to present the proposed ballot question and seek their support, said discussions about funding deficiencies for park maintenance have been going on for years. Government workers have been at the table and say “the efficiencies have already been found,” she told Bach.
“They’re kind of down to the bone,” Steinhour said.
Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko said she wasn’t so sure.
“I am not wholeheartedly convinced that we actually are as efficient as we could be in this one particular area and a lot of other areas,” Czelatdko said.
Although the Trails and Open Space Coalition is seeking support from the City Council and other government officials, it is lobbying county commissioners to refer the proposal to the November ballot. The proposed sales tax increase, which would sunset in 15 years, would amount to adding 15 cents to a $100 purchase.
The coalition is scheduled to meet with county commissioners Tuesday to discuss the proposal in a work session. County commissioners will take a formal vote in the future.
Commission Chairwoman Amy Lathen said she didn’t know the likelihood of the board referring the question to the ballot, though observers say the chances are slim to none.
“It really will take that public hearing and all the questions and answers and then we’ll vote,” she said.
But Lathen seemed to indicate that she wasn’t supportive, saying voters have to believe that existing resources are being managed properly before they approve a tax increase.
“If they don’t believe that, they’re not going to give more, and they shouldn’t, so we have to make a decision as to whether we think there are more efficiencies to be found,” she said.
“There were some statements made here that we’re not sure that those efficiencies have been found. I happen to agree with that,” she said.