Why is it that government always seems to have a lot of money to spend on frills, but whenever essential services need more funds they always want new taxes? This seems true at the federal and state levels, and now, sadly, at the local level (i.e. the Fire Department).
When we incorporated the city of Big Bear Lake in 1980, it was with the belief that the existing tax structure would provide adequate funds for essential services and possibly leave some additional money for desirable improvements.
Revenues over the years have exceeded the most optimistic of those early projections, and the city has done a lot of things with that money. We have bus service, bike lanes, hiking trails, sidewalks for almost the length of the town and a remodeled City Hall, to mention a few. All nice things, but which not a whole lot of people use. Nice, but not essential.
One of the latest city proposals is to spend a half million dollars for a footbridge. Are they kidding? A footbridge?
I don’t recall that we taxpayers were asked to vote on spending our money on these niceties. But now, when the Fire Department, on which we all are likely to have to rely at some point, is in need of additional funds, the powers that be will graciously allow us to vote on March 3 to raise our property taxes even higher than they are at the moment.
Rather than impose new taxes, I think the city and the Big Bear Community Services District, the entities responsible for governing the Fire Department, need to seriously restructure their spending priorities. I’m sure the city can do it.
Fire Chief Willis says his department receives 15 percent of the total property taxes received by the city. That seems pitifully low for one of the most important services the city provides. I’m less familiar with the financial situation at CSD, but I’m sure the folks in the east end of the Valley would place a higher priority on the Fire Department than on new trash cans.