This week our Letters section is once again dominated by letters about Measure B, which would cap the Plumas District Hospital tax assessment at $50 per $100,000 of assessed value. Roughly, two-thirds of the two-dozen letters we received this week spoke to the issue. We would be hard pressed to think of the last time that one issue so dominated our public forum.Although passions obviously run high on both sides, it is remarkable to note that, with the exception of one intemperate submission, the discourse has been polite and focused on the issues for the most part. This is just the sort of considered discussion we aim to foster.
That discussion will be abetted by the League of Women Voters, which will host a public forum tomorrow night, Thursday, July 29, on Measure B. The forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Veterans' Hall on Lawrence St. Representatives of the Tax the Cap and Save Our Hospital groups will be there, and League members who do not live within the hospital district will moderate.
Many of the letters describe how much Quincy is suffering economically and/or how much it will suffer if the ballot measure passes. That got us to thinking about the bigger picture. By our reckoning, in the last 10 years, Quincy has lost:
Two car dealerships
Half its lumber mill
A hardware store
A lumber yard
An appliance store
A title company
Three radio stations
Nearly 100 county positions
School and college personnel
Our list is not exhaustive, but it does beg the question: what's next?
Quincy High School?
Plumas District Hospital?
So far, nothing has filled the void left by our losses. How much more can we afford to lose? Have we lost too much already?
These questions are not unique to Quincy. Other Plumas communities can easily tick off a list of their equal or greater losses. Although voters within the Plumas Hospital District will decide the fate of that hospital, the repercussions will ripple out from Quincy - to folks in Indian Valley who use PDH because their own hospital is closed, to those from Eastern Plumas who choose to use PDH and to the county's economic health as a whole.
Readers from other areas may tire of the back-and-forth letters from proponents and opponents of Measure B, but the reality is, we're all in this together.
We think the only way to turn this tide is to vote No on Measure B. We understand the anger and distrust that prompted the measure, but the measure itself was ill conceived and doesn't solve the problem.
We don't like being taxed either. But in this case, at least we know where our taxes are going and what purpose they serve - which is more than we can say about our state and federal income taxes, which seem to disappear into black holes in Sacramento and Washington.
We remind PDH voters that they will see no, zero, zip assessment from PDH for Measure A on their 2010-11 property-tax bills. That's because the district decided not to sell the bonds they had originally planned to in February. We think the board will stick by that decision and by their recent declaration of intent not to enter into any financing deal that would result in a tax rate of more than $125 per $100,000 of assessed value.
Given the political climate, we think they have to. Or else we'll be reading letters about a Measure C.