County sticks with CSAC

Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

Calaveras County will remain a part of the California State Association of Counties despite differences with some land-use and tax positions taken by the organization.

The county Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to maintain a $13,905 annual membership in CSAC, which provides advocacy, educational and financial services to California's 58 counties.

Supervisor Darren Spellman cast the dissenting vote. He asked that continued CSAC membership be agendized after Rancho Calaveras constituent Peter Racz repeated his oft-given criticisms of the organization at the Sept. 25 meeting, including its promotion of elements of United Nations Agenda 21, a global sustainable growth initiative.

Racz, Tonja Dausend, of Rancho Calaveras, and Calaveras County Taxpayers Association President Al Segalla offered further criticism of the organization during public comment Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors voted recently to have its CSAC representative, Merita Callaway, oppose Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's temporary tax hike to boost the budget and maintain school funding, in an organization-wide vote. Despite Calaveras' opposition, more than two-thirds of the counties favored the initiative and CSAC officially took a supportive position on the measure.

CSAC works to undermine Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 property tax measure, a disservice especially to the county's elderly residents, Spellman said.

"With the rising costs … this would be an absolute travesty for them to have to keep pace with the increases through the years," Spellman said. "I 100 percent support Proposition 13 as it stands today."

"This is the first I have ever heard that CSAC doesn't support Prop 13," Callaway said.

She said the organization has provided a lot of benefit to counties, including paving the way for reciprocity arrangements that allow California Environmental Quality Act review to meet corresponding federal standards.

CSAC gives counties a voice in the ears of state government that simply would not be heard on an individual basis, Callaway said.

"Land use is one of the few things we have left to make decisions on and we do not want the state making those decisions," she said. "I think Calaveras gets a good return on their investment for CSAC."

The rest of the board agreed that even if the Prop 30 vote did not go as hoped, pulling out would be a severe overreaction.

"If we hold ourselves to a litmus test that we only take part in organizations that we agree on everything with, it would be difficult to live in our own homes with our families," Supervisor Steve Wilensky said.

"Just because you lose the vote, you don't leave the organization. Just because you lose a 3-2 vote here, you don't resign your position," added Supervisor Tom Tryon. "Somebody has to represent the values of rural America. You don't just leave because you get outnumbered by the urban areas."

"You can't just not participate because you don't agree on certain issues," said Supervisor Gary Tofanelli. "A lot of things brought up today I don't agree with. That doesn't mean you walk away from it."

The Union Democrat
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