Wednesday Jul 22 2009
Commitment to parks should be continued
By: Susan Belknap, Placer Herald editor
In this day when many household budgets are tight, the thought of having to dole out any extra money for anything not deemed as necessary is repugnant. Couple that with receiving another ballot in the mail from any level of government asking for any amount of money is abhorrent for many people. But, there are exceptions to everything. In about a week, Rocklin residents will be receiving an all-mail ballot regarding Measure A, which deals with the maintenance of the city’s parks. For the past 20 years, Rocklin citizens have been paying up to $30 per year that has been providing maintenance of the city’s parks. According to Paul Ruhkala, co chairman of the Citizens for Quality Parks Committee and Rocklin Park and Recreation commissioner, every 10 years the tax comes before the people for renewal. “Seventy percent of the people approved the tax 10 years ago,” Ruhkala said. “It’s been successful and as a result we have gorgeous parks.” For those of you who were around in 2008 you might recall a park maintenance tax on your ballot that was for $45 per year. Ruhkala said the tax was approved by 60 percent of the voters but needed a two-thirds majority in order to be in effect. City Manager Carlos Urrutia said without the passage of Measure A the city loses $500,000 and other city departments could suffer. Opponents of the tax, Placer County Republicans, say the council is being dishonest. “Taxes are already high enough in Rocklin,” said Tom Hudson, chairman for the Republication Party. “Park maintenance is a small part of the city’s overall budget. The city should contract out for this department enough to avoid a tax.” Measure A proponent Bill Halldin said the residents made a commitment to city parks and that commitment should be continued. “If this measure doesn’t pass, the city will be unable to maintain the parks as they are today,” Halldin said. Halldin said the most likely result if the measure is defeated would be less watering and mowing of the parks, reduced water park hours, no replacement of outdated play structure and some parks could even close. No one really knows exactly what will occur since residents have been paying $30 per year on their property tax bill for 20 years to maintain area parks. (The measure does contain a provision that allows seniors to pay only $10 per year). But with the decrease in city revenues the last few years, the city of Rocklin has already cut several million dollars from its budget to handle this revenue decrease. The Placer Herald believes that if neighborhood and community parks are not properly maintained, an increase in vandalism and graffiti could occur. Property values will decline and a sense of community pride will be lost. When your ballot arrives next week, The Placer Herald advises you to read it thoroughly in order to make an informed decision. While no one wants to pay more than is necessary, the $30 per year that you’ve already been paying seems to be a small amount when considering what could be lost if Measure A does not pass. And $30 is about the cost of 10 lattes. Isn’t that something worth giving up to be able to keep the parks in good condition?