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Letters to the Editor for July 2, 2011

July 2, 2011

Council moves lower taxes

Your front page headline "Up, Up, Up" would leave any casual reader with the impression that Monday's city council meeting was going to cost them lots of money. Here are the facts:

1. The majority of rates were unchanged and a few even decreased.

2. Few of those rates increased affect the average resident. The only rate we touched which most people pay is the water portion of the water/sewer bill. After no change last year, we raised it by a small amount this year for one reason: It was required by the USDA to qualify us for grants and loans to replace our 80-year-old water line. These grants and low-interest loans will save every water customer thousands of dollars over coming years.

3. Other rates, such as the ambulance and planning rates cited, were adjusted because of standing city council policy that users of these services should pay the true cost of providing those services. If the insurance company pays less than the true cost of an ambulance ride, the difference comes out of your city tax dollar. I'd rather see my tax dollar pay for public safety or parks instead of subsidizing development or ambulance rates.

4. This article would have been a great time for the Hood River News to share the good news that based on a city council recommendation taxpayers will see a reduction of the city portion of their property tax bill this year. The mill rate for city purposes should drop by about 90 cents per thousand from last year, saving the average homeowner about $150.

Bottom line: Actions in the past few weeks by your city council will actually reduce your payments for city services this year, with even bigger savings in the long term. I know cynical jabs at government spending are fashionable, but this city council doesn't deserve it.

Mayor Arthur Babitz

Hood River

Give to support fireworks

Again, as in the past years, the Eyeopener Lions of Hood River are sponsoring the fireworks display for the Fourth.

We are a small club. We depend on donations from the community in order to support this activity.

If you wish to donate, you may mail donations to:

Eyeopener Lions

1767 12th St., #136

Hood River, OR 97031

Donations can also be made at the Eyeopener Lions fireworks stand located in front of Rite Aid, in Cascade Commons. Fireworks can also be purchased. These contribute to the continued expenses of the Eyeopener Lions, and help with the expenses of July 4.

If we can achieve a donation of only $5 per family then this tradition can continue.

Many businesses have contributed. Donations will be requested during the parade on the Fourth.

We do need to be able to plan for the future. We would like to have donations being made prior to the event.

Remember: This activity is a community activity and depends on community support.

Thanks for the continued support of the community.

We will have walkers asking for donations during the parade. In the past this has helped considerably with our expenses. Please donate during the parade!

Leonard Hickman

Eyeopener Lions

Hood River

Destruction

by council

Last night (Monday, June 27) the Cascade Locks City Council voted in its budget for the new year; they cut the funding for the fire chief's wages by nearly 40 percent. As predicted by the citizens, and already planned and expected from the council, our chief resigned, leaving Cascade Locks without a paramedic and leadership in a key position.

This is just the latest loss suffered by the city that can be attributed to this six-month-old council.

First a city administrator resigned and was replaced by an interim administrator at a higher wage. The city planner also resigned, again replaced by someone at a higher wage. The superintendent of public works was replaced by an out-of-state, part-time person, also at a higher per hour rate.

The city attorney is no longer with us and needs to be replaced. There is now a search under way for a full-time city administrator; the final six candidates are from Alaska and the east part of the country - apparently no one qualified in Oregon was interested.

In less than a year the personnel infrastructure of our city has been decimated; the council won't listen to the citizens who generated a letter with more than 110 signatures requesting full funding of the fire and ambulance department.

Just to compound the problems, council also cut the budgeted amount for staff by 10 percent.

Actions have consequences; in this case it will probably be a recall of those council persons who contributed to this mess.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

Library's books

I love books and more importantly, the library. I'm very glad you are opening again.

My favorite book is "Ruby, the Red Fairy." I'm glad I have my dad to read my favorite book to me.

Zan Lapp

Parkdale

Ridiculous decision

Shame on the city council for approving a 40 percent rate increase for basic life support ambulance transport services.

I am fully aware of the rising cost of fuel and other commodities we all need and use. As part owner of a small business, I am also aware that if we raised our rates 40 percent to compensate for these expenses, we would be out of business.

It is rate increases such as this that partly explain the rising cost of my medical insurance premium, as well.

Ridiculous decision on the part of the council!

Angie Green

Parkdale

Fair taxation

Thank you, Anne. Vance, for acknowledging how important taxes are for running the government (Our Readers Write, June 29). Unfortunately we are not even close to an equal playing field.

There is a push now within our country for a flat tax by many Libertarians seeking equal taxation to achieve the fairness you suggest. According to which website you search, it appears that up to 50 percent of tax filers ultimately pay absolutely no taxes and many receive money back.

My wife has been told in firsthand accounts about people receiving IRS checks for "several thousand dollars." I have used TurboTax for several years and this never happens to us.

Meanwhile, some still manage to have the latest iPhone while their kids sometimes have the best gaming systems. We work full-time and we have none of these things.

Fairness is such a tough thing to consider when you look at all the variables. Business owners deserve to be rewarded for putting in 12-14-hour days to earn a living. Workers also need a fair deal when it comes to keeping some of their hard-earned money.

No one likes to look at the other side of the spectrum because it isn't politically correct to mention. As a liberal I want everyone to succeed; and given the right tools and motivation, many do.

Conservatives do have a point when they disagree with the degree to which some are granted immunity from responsibility and hard work. It isn't much of a stretch to see why they wouldn't want their taxes paying for someone else's child to have an iPhone.

We have to get past the emotion when we discuss these issues if we have any hope of resolving them. Being able to step back and see the big picture is only possible when we all fill in our trenches and put away the weapons. Thanks for listening.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Doing the

right thing?

Once again, as eternally "usual," summer and the dreaded Fourth of July hits us "with a bang."

Hey, don't get me wrong: Independence Day with its picnics, parades and other wholesome family stuff is really great. And quite possibly some of us "oldies" might even know what we are celebrating.

But, as recently as (wow) last week, the HR News ran feature articles about the injuries that happen "this time of the year." Fire Chief Devon (Wells) talked about the brush fires, homes lost and a variety of missing body parts from the under-20 crowd. Julie (Raefield-Gobbo) gave us a safety lesson on what to do if our clothes catch on fire. Good stuff under the circumstances.

And Kirby (Neumann-Rea), your front page of June 29 had a headline article that read "tossed firework causes first brush fire" - from a moving car yet. Cute! Home-grown terrorist or just a kid having fun?

And Russ (Paddock), we've been buds for 65 years and I admire you for what you do for our community and for your "Flying Kids." But don't you think that the 10 or 12 grand that we spend on the 30-minute fireworks show might be better spent on educating our kids on what Independence Day really means?

Perhaps the purveyors of these "bang-up" devices could offer a small civics questionnaire to potential customers before they could qualify for purchasing these explosives. As in (1) where was the Declaration of Independence signed? (2) Where is (hint-hint) Independence Hall located; (3) Name 3 people who (hint-hint) put their John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence. Maybe even "What year was the Declaration signed?" or (gasp) what was the Declaration declaring?

Please, folks; I'm not being critical of human nature (I mean blowing up stuff is fun and we all like fun) but the spirit of '76 will live on if we educate our kids about the historical significance of the event rather than how much fun it is to blow stuff up.

And thank God we have had a wet spring. The "Birdland Park" immediately to the west and windward side of my home on Eugene street is not the tinder that it was a few years ago when the fire department (God bless them) was called to extinguish a blaze there that was set by a rocket that came from some reveling teenagers celebrating on a porch just above my home.

Whew! Close call!

Come on, folks. Just think about it: Are we doing the right thing?

Phil Jensen

Hood River

Misleading percentages

I am referring to the article regarding the increase in basic ambulance transport rate.

I find it difficult to believe that increasing a rate from $900 to $1,500 is actually an increase of 40 percent. This increase is actually 66 2/3 percent.

In order to come to a 40 percent rate the increase has to be figured as a percentage of the new rate: 40 percent of $1,500 is equal to $600.

In retail, this is the result of computing new prices as a percentage of the new price. This results in a lower percentage, useful as propaganda, but, in effect, resulting in a higher price.

Example: 40 percent of $900 would result in an increase of $360 for a net price of $1,260.

Next, what records are necessary to document that these increased parking fees are actually spent at the Library Park?

I doubt that the increased fees will cover the costs of documenting where this increase came from. In other words, how do we justify charging a higher rate at specific locations if we cannot document that these fees were spent at that locale?

Leonard Hickman

Hood River

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