Although I was a bit surprised to see the joint press release by the Atascadero Police and Fire Associations attacking my leadership competency based on my position on Measure D-20 (the 1 cent tax increase), I am not bothered by it but should address it for the Atascadero voters and residents.
The press release fell short of a clear judgment of my ability to lead and fulfill my future duties as a City Council member. To suppose that a City Council candidate must either choose to support a poorly written and unrestricted tax measure or enter the race with a comprehensive economic plan for the City’s future is preposterous at best. Never before has such a standard been suggested.
The City adopted an economic development plan in 2009, and holding that plan up to the light, we can see it has not been followed. I am not the only resident dissatisfied with the City’s effort to accomplish the economic development we could expect.
Case in point, when a new development displaced a local coffee shop owner, he was not approached by the City or any elected officials about how he could relocate and save his business. Instead, he was approached by the mayor of Paso Robles who asked what could be done to move him to Paso Robles. “E” for effort, Mr. Martin.
How would I expect any greater effort from our City after appeasing their appetite for revenue with a tax? I can’t. So I don’t support it. Instead, I’m running for City Council to give a voice to those who expect more.
Measure D-20 is a bandaid … or is it? It has no sunset clause or specificity to the direction of the spending. The City assured it will go to public safety, and I believe that. But it is where the rest of the funds will go that concerns me most.
On September 22, the current City Council discussed the concerns around Measure D-20 and suggested they could create an oversight committee. Councilperson Bourbeau suggested the taxpayers “trust us.” He went on to suggest it would be nice to use the money to build a new skate park, bike lanes or new fire house. Is a skate park a priority?
On the other hand, maybe the tax is not a bandaid. Maybe our City will need an additional tax no matter what. This is California, and that is not unheard of. But if I’m expected to support such an idea, I will need a comprehensive plan from the City on how the money will be used.
Ironically, the City employees — police and fire — are asking taxpayers to support a tax increase without a plan.
We need at least one member on the council dedicated to our economic development needs and moving the needle. I look forward to serving our community interests and making sure they get the money they need one way or another. Many young entrepreneurs and professionals are working toward success in Atascadero, and I will serve them and their concerns during my term.
Nic Mattson, Candidate for Atascadero City Council