So I attended the Ophir General Assembly meeting this past Tuesday and we talked about the proposal a bit; however, mainly focused on whether we would put the issue to the voters at large … since apparently, this is a necessary mechansim for a municipality to determine if it would like to participate. In other words, the General Assembly was not the proper venue for Ophir to decide whether it ought to be a participant.
There is a cost to putting this question on the ballot next election, upwards of two grand on the high end. We could’ve killed it in the GA by simply not sending it to a wider vote. However, many in attendance felt that it is an important enough issue for the larger population to decide up on in an election format and the motion passed nearly unimously (one abstention).
I think it is the right thing to do to put it to all residents, it’s a big enough issue which people ought to be afforded an opportunity to at least have a say in the matter.
Personally, I’m kind of back on board with the proposal IF what was reported by our town staff is accurate; namely that Ophir could not be subjected to taxation by a greater transit authority wide vote, but could ONLY be taxed if (perhaps simple) majority of registered Ophir voters elect to do so. This protection needs to be spelled out explicity & verified by the Ophir town attorney in order for me to support Ophir becoming a member (and not a fierce opponent thereof). Ultimately, this is the greatest concern I have. I don’t believe Ophir ought to become a party to an agreement which could dictate and impose tax measures which were dispporportionately unfair to Ophir’s relative usage or benefit of the transportation system. I’m not sure how this would all work out as far as the entire system, but if Ophir is granted relatively autonomy regarding taxation, then I could see it forcing the authority to “look out for” the smaller entities if it wants our participation vs. simply having us on board as “dead weight”. In other words, unless a reasonable and proportionately fair funding mechanism is devised to spread financial responsibility equitably, we’ll always vote in opposition. By the same token, Ophir might serve as a role model to illustrate how to “pay to play” to start up new services.
Still, there was one abstention … and I also felt this particular resident’s apprehension in a big way. In the 20 or so years I’ve lived in the area, it seems like one agreement / board gets trampled on after the next. Agreements on Monday are placed in the archives by Friday. I realize RTA agreements probably have a great foundation in terms of protections and such, but who knows … maybe they’re flexible enough to allow Ophir to vote away its’ right to self determination of taxation issues if things change in 10 years. Maybe the profile of Ophir changes dramatically in 10 years … and more people are looking to pay into the communal RTA coffers for increased services, but some aren’t really looking for this so much? It seems to me that ultimately Ophir will be feeding funds into the larger system & some people will not be using it.