Measure V is for voting to ensure government is accountable (September 23, 2016)

Measure V gives people the right to vote. Measure W takes it away […]

When it comes to ensuring government is spending taxpayer dollars wisely, the power of voting is the only way to hold politicians and bureaucrats accountable. At the same time, when politicians are trying to discourage a vote, taxpayers should be skeptical.

That is the debate behind Apple Valley’s Measure V, an initiative on this November’s ballot that does one simple thing. It guarantees your right to vote on debt that taxpayers have to repay. It’s not complicated, quite the opposite. Measure V simply requires government to tell residents the amount of money they want to borrow and get voter approval before they can do it.

Measure V was carefully crafted, requiring voter approval in cases where government wants to borrow $10 million or more that would be repaid by revenue bonds. Revenue bonds are not used for schools, parks, roads or other projects. Revenue bonds are repaid through a new government fee on a revenue generating enterprise, like sewer service, electrical, or water service. To repay revenue bond debt, citizens would pay a new fee added to their monthly bill, most often for 30 years.

Measure V was placed on the ballot because politicians refused to give taxpayers the right to vote on the debt for a takeover of the water system. The Town of Apple Valley’s Blue Ribbon Water Committee studied the issue for years and determined that taxpayers should be prepared to have to repay more than $200 million in debt, but the Town refused to put it up for a vote. Apple Valley residents Chuck and Pat Hanson sponsored Measure V and nearly 4,000 residents signed petitions to ensure it made this November’s ballot. Sadly, Chuck Hanson passed away in July, but Pat and community volunteers are continuing the effort to pass Measure V.

Incredibly, instead of honoring an honest Yes or No vote on debt, the Town’s political class has launched what the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association believes is an enormously deceptive and dishonest campaign.

The same day Measure V qualified for the ballot, politicians voted to put a competing measure on the ballot, Measure W, to deceive voters. Measure V gives people the right to vote. Measure W takes it away, letting politicians decide if there will be a vote through a massive loophole that allows government to take on hundreds of millions in debt without voter approval.

The Measure W deception was exposed thanks to a Daily Press Public Records Act request that revealed the Town hired a San Francisco Bay Area Political Law Firm last February to craft Measure W. The Town skirted open government laws and never disclosed they were hiring the firm, nor did they ask the people if they should do so. Just as Apple Valley taxpayers were spending their time gathering petitions demanding the right to vote, politicians spent more than $50,000 in tax dollars to develop a measure to take away Apple Valley’s right to vote.

Regardless of your position on a water takeover, voting Yes on Measure V is the only way taxpayers can hold government accountable. Instead of playing dishonest political games, politicians should seek permission on the exact amount of money they want to borrow and tell voters how much they will charge in new fees to repay the debt.

Voting is the foundation of our Country. Nothing is more American than our democratic process. The Inland Empire Taxpayers Association has closely studied Measure V, and urges you to Vote Yes on V to hold government accountable, ensure they are transparent and ask for your permission before they borrow money that will be repaid by your children and grandchildren.

Chris Mann is founder of the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association.

Files related to Measure V