Lake County considers sales tax hike to protect Clear Lake
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.
Lake County residents are united in the belief something needs to be done to combat the algae and weeds that increasingly proliferate in Clear Lake, clogging waterways, raising an unholy stench and discouraging tourism. But they are divided on whether Measure E is a solution.
Measure E would increase the county's sales tax by a half percent, raising an estimated $2.4 million annually for the 10 years the measure would be in effect. The tax rate in the unincorporated county would increase to 7.75 percent if passed.
Nearly 90 percent of the money would be slated for weed and algae abatement and the prevention of an infestation of zebra and quagga mussels, which have been making their way across the country in contaminated boats.
The rest of the money would go toward obtaining matching funds and an annual independent audit to ensure the money is being spent appropriately, said Supervisor Anthony Farrington, a lead proponent of the measure.
The measure also would create an oversight committee that would work with county staff to create a plan to abate weed and algae nuisances.
The ballot measure must receive two-thirds of the votes cast in order to pass.
Farrington said it's crucial that something be done to control the weeds and algae, which are becoming an increasing problem.
"Clear Lake is the lifeblood of our community," he said.
The lake is important to tourism and to the health and well-being of residents, many of whom depend on water from the lake for domestic use, Farrington said. The problem also affects property values and air quality. Many people have been complaining and calling for something to be done, Farrington said.
"Here's a chance for people to do something about it," he said.
Opponents of the measure agree something needs to be done.
"Last year, my kids didn't even come up" to stay at the lake, said Kelseyville resident Eva Johnson, 83. An avid swimmer, Johnson said she hasn't been in the lake for five years because of frequent algae blooms. A neighbor dependent on rental income to maintain a lakeside vacation home has been unable to find renters for the summer, when the problem is at its worst, she said.
Nevertheless, she opposes Measure E. She said it lacks a specific plan of action and would be a hardship on people who are on fixed incomes. Opponents also say such proposals should be undertaken by state and federal agencies.
There have been some draft proposals floated for lake improvement should the ballot measure pass. Most are proven solutions, such as killing the weeds with herbicides, Farrington said.
But a detailed plan would be created after the measure passes.
"There is no plan," Johnson said. "I'm not convinced they would use (the funding) wisely."
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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