Fee Evader


Local Meanie Picks on Nice Gentleman

At the Sierra County Board of Supervisor’s meeting in Downieville, Mr. Joe Arata was called forward to again defend his desire that the Board stop "feeing" him for the solid waste fee on a house he owns in Sierra City.

Mr. Arata wasn’t sure why he was given a timed item on the agenda since he’d just gone through the misery of explaining his position for this year in a previous board meeting. No one seemed sure why the Board was doing this again, except for Mr. Curtis who provided an explanation which, from the back of the room, sounded like this:

"In the previous Board meeting the Board fzaps brist conspaadon brasidorf."

The event was further confused by rolling in a discussion on how the wording of the solid waste ordinance has changed.

Even so, Mr. Arata gave his well worn description of why he feels he shouldn’t have to pay the fee.

Mr. Arata owns a couple of old houses in Sierra City. One of them, he doesn’t use, the other he uses only a few months or less a year. He feels that since he doesn’t use one of them, except to store old furniture, he shouldn’t have to pay solid waste fee.

Mr. Arata has argued this for a decade or so now.

Mr. Arata could easily have the little house declared a "storage building" and escape the tax, but he doesn’t want to since it would cost money to bring it back to code to be a single family dwelling again.

The discussion at this meeting grew complicated as the discussion always does when Mr. Arata or Mr. DeLisle make their pitch about paying for something they don’t use.

The County’s point is, they could use it, the service is there.

This reporter eventually grew very tired of the blah blah and took the podium.

I said that Mr. Arata was getting value for his fee, and he had demonstrated it. He declined to make the single family home into a storage building because it has value as a single family home which is lost as a storage building. The building has value as a single family home because there are services, infrastructure, which we all pay for. That value is why he benefits, and why he needs to contribute to the solid waste fund. I said it made him sound selfish.

Mr. Arata didn’t like the suggestion he might be "selfish" but it does make him seem so, doesn’t it?

Not living here, and not using the house or making solid waste, is not a benefit to the county. Absentee land owners don’t spend money locally, don’t help when there’s a community need and don’t add their kids to the community. This is not to slight our many wonderful summer residents, many of whom are members of the community and sure do buy summer groceries locally. But the idea that, in general, people who own property here but don’t contribute to the local economy are somehow doing us all a favor, is wrong.

Mr. Arata’s property in beautiful Sierra City will bring his heirs a nice chunk of change one day. That’s what he’s paying his solid waste fee for.

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