Union Democrat staff

Citizens group

hurts local economy

To the Editor:

In reading Ms. Farkas' Letter to the Editor, I find it hard to believe she thinks our community would be so gullible as to fall for her spin that Citizens For Responsible Growth is somehow engaged in some type of noble community service. They continuously oppose many needed and approved projects and the resulting job creation (or retention) those projects would bring. They have become the worst type of obstructionists by using our legal system against us through frivolous litigation to slow, hinder, add cost in time or money or outright kill new projects that are approved, often unanimously, by our elected officials.

Make no mistake, Citizens For Responsible Growth is negatively impacting our economy, jobs, schools and robbing our community of it's hard earned prosperity while rendering the will of the community null and void.

Mark Banks

President, Tuolumne County Building Industry

Revenue myths keep circulating

To the Editor:

On March 7 The Union Democrat published an ad paid for by the Tuolumne County Business Council.

Who in the "Sonora City Finance Department" made this false statement? "…each year of delay costs the city between $350,000 and $400,000 in sales tax revenues that could have been used to fund road repairs?"

This myth about revenues that Lowe's was going to generate first came from then City Administrator Greg Applegate.

What Applegate and the Council said was in addition to the sales tax revenues being paid to the city and county from existing local businesses, Lowe's will be bringing in an added "$400,000 for each the City of Sonora and the County." (Applegate's quote)

Using the numbers from the California Board of Equalization:

State law - Of the 7.5 percent we pay in state sales tax - 6.5 percent goes to the state, 0.25 percent goes to county transportation fund, 0.75 percent goes to city or county operations (http://www.boe.ca.gov/news/sp111500att.htm.)

How much in total annual sales would it take for Lowe's to generate $400,000 each, for the city and county, in additional taxes?

1.25 percent that goes to the city ("tax and spend" Sonora charges us an extra .5 percent) and for the county, it is 0.25 percent.

For Lowe's Sonora to increase our sales tax revenues (rebates) by $800,000 each year at the total 1.5% (.015) - it would take $53 million in sales above and beyond what existed before Lowe's was opened for business. Well, what was that increase?

The Business Council, by blaming the victims for their transgressions, possibly leaving themselves open to more legal problems.

Bottom line - Lowe's was basically a zero sum game. Because we have inept administrators, and a Business Council of questionable integrity and knowledge, our local economy will continue to wither away.

Domenic Torchia


Unification may

not help students

To the Editor:

There are very few studies on the effects of unification.

The National School Boards Association Journal writes regarding California's new Twin Rivers Unified School District.

"... Another 2007 study by Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy said mergers provide only limited savings to states and local taxpayers and, more important, have little to no impact on student achievement."

Repeat: "little to no impact on student achievement"

What will we get with unification?

The local pro-unification flyer promotes "Better Education through Efficiency" and "savings through efficiency."

Domenic Torchia states in his letter:

"This current unification ballot measure will save from $3 to $5 million dollars - it is what the administration will do with the savings that can be debated."

I say, let the public see an actual budget comparison. Where does this $3 to 5 million come from?

No "level up effect" - really? In my opinion, the teachers union in a unified district will negotiate higher pay for those coming in at lower pay (parity). A unified school board will make it easier for the union to achieve this goal.

"Stand for Children Arizona," a pro-unification group, provides insight into their experience and a warning. "Allow longer horizon for salary schedule alignment and require revenue from elimination of duplicate administrative staff (superintendents) to go to salary schedule..."

Save money? Not assured.

Better for student achievement? Not assured.

What will we get?

Let's review an actual budget comparison to see if it really makes sense for Tuolumne County parents and voters to give up local school board control.

Let's make this decision based on facts and experience of others.

I vote for finding ways to improve student achievement, not moving costs around with no improvement.

Let's do this before putting it on the ballot.

Dale McFarland