Tuesday, Jun 18 2013 12:00 AM

Guest Commentary: Stallion Springs board should engage with property owners

The Stallion Springs Police Tax Ballot, Measure B, has been voted on and failed.

It would have been a parcel tax levied on all property owners of Stallion Springs to provide funds for hiring two additional police officers.

Are two additional police officers needed or would one additional suffice? What caused some doubt with many of us are news stories about Stallion Springs officers involved in law enforcement activities outside of Stallion Springs. One reported was in California City -- a long way from our community.

What bothered many of us the most is that the Stallion Springs Board of Directors (BOD) decided to hold a parcel tax election without first getting the input of the Stallion Springs property owners. The BOD voted in late January to put the issue on the June ballot before holding public hearings.

At the January meeting, the BOD announced public hearings in March and April concerning the need for two officers. The public hearings should have been before the BOD vote to put Measure B on the June ballot, not after.

Many of us refused to attend the public hearings in March and April because our viewpoints were predetermined by the BOD to be irrelevant. The decision had already been made in January, so input from us, the property owners who would have been the bill payers, was not considered important.

The process used by the BOD was backwards and an obvious attempt to circumvent Prop 13 and the intent of the property owners to control local government entities from implementing parcel taxes without due process. In my humble opinion, I do not believe that due process was used by our BOD! This is contrary to good and fair government actions! It is also contrary to what democracy is supposed to be about in our great Nation.

Maybe the BOD made its decision without public hearings due to fear that we would be against the proposal. Without sound justification, yes we would have. If the justification was sound, we would have probably backed the proposal for at least one officer, maybe not two. We could have also considered hiring one officer in the near-term with the second officer coming a year or two in the future as the economy improved or additional, valid justification of the need materialized.

As Mr. Foster stated his letter to the editor in the April 23 issue of the Tehachapi News, "the [Law Enforcement] committee may have been wiser to propose an incremental approach to this, and asked for less dollars initially, with subsequent increases spread out over several fiscal years."

This makes sense and was addressed by myself and others at the January BOD meeting. However, the BOD had already made up its mind and was bent on an all or nothing solution. Nothing is what materialized instead of a partial solution.

Since Measure B failed, the BOD should reintroduce the proposal, except this time, include the community in the discussion up front instead of ignoring us or trying to work around us!

We have one of the best police departments in the state and are proud of their accomplishments. The BOD should also consider an alternative approach to funding an additional officer to include a police fee that can be billed on the resident's bi-monthly bill for water, trash, admin, and other fees listed.It would be more fair to charge the residents living in Stallion, many of which are not property owners, than to arbitrarily charge property owners who have empty parcel lots that do not need policing. Those who get the benefit should pay for the benefit, myself included.

Why not a Measure on the next election cycle that focuses on this approach?

CHARLES WALTERS is Stallion Springs property owner and Lt. Col., US Marine Corps, retired.

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