March 2012 - Sierra Scoop Column

My wife and I were fortunate enough to have been able to travel through three states recently. During our travels we had the opportunity to speak with many locals and travelers about our Country’s state of affairs. The common feeling is one of hopelessness and the feeling that our way of life has forever changed. The feeling among our seniors is uncertainty after having worked so hard for so many years and properly planned for their future, only to now see that it did not matter that they followed the rules all these years. Their future along with all of ours is without a doubt uncertain.

The one most notable thing that we saw along our way was the dismal condition of our Country’s roads and infrastructure. Roads are so bad that no matter how much they try to patch them the only real fix is a complete overhaul. Along with roads, many water and sewer systems are antiquated and are in need of massive overhauls.

Mono County’s roads are no different than the rest of the Country.  They are in poor shape! In addition, most of the County’s public facilities (Community Centers, Road Department buildings, etc) have many deficiencies,  and there is little or no money to fix all of our problems.

Now the State (thanks Jerry Brown), is fixing the State’s budget problems by shifting State mandated and funded programs to local jurisdictions. This means that programs the State use to pay for, are being forced onto our Counties and Cities.  In counties like Mono, where our property tax base keeps eroding away due to falling property values (and yes this is still happening despite what some might be saying) the amount of money available to keep our facilities in good shape and still pay for these State mandated, but non-funded programs, is shrinking.

So what is a County to do? They cannot control property values; they don’t seem to be able to control expenses well enough; so the only other place to turn to is to increase revenue.  How do they do this? They will increase the fees to its citizens and small businesses. As a small business owner myself, I know just how tough it is to make ends meet in these tough economic times. Budget time is just around the corner with the fiscal year ending in June.  I’m sure that we will see an increase in fees.  Unless of course we have strong representation and we all get involved.

The question I seem to always ask is “When will the American public say enough is enough!” When will We the People start getting involved in our Local, State and Federal government? It is just not enough anymore to elect a Representative and then go on our merry way. We the People must stay involved to make certain that our representatives are staying in touch with our needs and desires. I have faith in the American public and just pray that we all wake up before it is too late. I urge everyone to get involved and stay involved and we can get this great Country back on track!

To see topics that are being debated in our County, visit www.monocounty.ca.gov and click on “Board of Supervisors Agenda”. Contact your Supervisor, they work for you! District 1, Larry Johnson, ljohnston@mono.ca.gov. District 2, Hap Hazard, hap04@msn.com. District 3, Vikki Bauer, vbauer@mono.ca.gov. District 4, Tim Hansen, thansen@mono.ca.gov. District 5, Bing Hunt, bhunt@mono.ca.gov.