Live with Us

Live with Us Where We Live

I sat musing with some folks the other day and in our conversation we came on a public official who makes a good living working for us here in Sierra County, but doesn’t live here.

That led to another, and another and more, people who work in well paying positions collecting tax dollars, but who live somewhere else.

A few weeks ago Dr. Carol Roberts asked the Board for money for a professional position. Dr. Roberts stressed repeatedly that the person wanted to move to Sierra County, but that it was risky without a guarantee of a decent income.

It is a good point, but a remark on the county, and all of us here. We often live here with no guarantees of any kind. We love the beauty of the land, the history, and the special people who live here. For us, living here is its own incentive.

We have often seen that professional people, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and others, want to work where there is real money. We have to try to compete for competent people with bigger places, places that make a better notch on their resume. If we restrict these positions to just people who live here, are we going to have local folks who don’t know what they’re doing running the show?

While that is a worry, it is also a reflection of our poor self-image. We’ve come to accept that no one from here has the appropriate credentials for the positions, and we’ll accept that those who take the positions have bigger houses and better lives in nearby counties.

On the other hand, who would move to Sierra County in this economic climate? A professional who comes here and for whatever reason loses a job would almost certainly not be able to find a similar job here, and would have to abandon a career, or move, selling a house and finding a job in a dead economy.

Still, how much money leaves the county through these (by local standards) well-paid positions?

Further, how can teachers and cops serve us properly if they don’t have the social investment in us as neighbors? How can the professionals in the county make informed decisions about communities they don’t live in, making policy they don’t live under?

Shall we insist that people receiving good money to serve us repay the investment by investing in us as neighbors? How far will we go with our demands, will teachers in Downieville not be allowed to live in Calpine? Does a cop have to buy and sell a house every time there is a duty assignment change?

Should we, as a community, set about to decide what to do about the situation of "absentee professionals"? Are there incentives we can offer people to encourage them to live with us, invest in our neighborhoods, put their children in our schools?

Remarks or ideas:

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