Stop milking the cash cow |

Stop milking the cash cow

by Bob Chambers

Why is it that I get the sense of Nero fiddling while Rome burns when I read the “No tax increase without audit” letter from Chamber Board of Directors President Nick Pchelkin? According to Nick, the board “represents more than 550 area businesses” and “that raising taxes or creating new fees to cover a budget shortfall…does not address the real problem.”

How true. For at least the last six years thinking like that has kept the commissioners from raising taxes or creating new fees. So today Douglas County has one of the lowest tax rates of Nevada. Isn’t the chamber of commerce proud to be a part of that?

Your developer members are busy maintaining their lifestyle by getting the county to have as high a new home cap as possible. And your businesses are happy with all the new residents moving to Douglas County since it means more profit to them. So what if there is going to be a “little budget shortfall?” People will keep coming, won’t they?

But look around you. See the potholes on the roads? Must mean someone forgot to spend money to maintain the roads. But that’s no big thing. And of course, how about when the library closes down for part of the week due to that “little budget shortfall?” Or when your kids can’t play Little League because the parks are closed due to a “little budget shortfall?”

I know that one of the first places I visited before moving to Douglas County was the library. I can tell you that having a fully functioning library is a priority to me. And it probably is to other folks, too. It helps to tell us how well or how sick a community is.

As a member of the Library Board of Trustees I have seen first hand the results that a flat (no increase each year) budget has on running the library. How many of the chamber’s businesses have maintained the same expense budget year in and year out? The real miracle is that the library has been able to do the impossible through grants, innovative funding and support from groups like the Friends of the Library.

Well, thanks to people like the chamber of commerce, keeping the library operating as usual is about to be over. And once the library is forced to shutdown and lay off staff the library will never be the same.

How does that impact our county? Most of the people that can afford to move here are older. They expect a full service library. They expect recreational facilities. They expect to be safe and have a strong sheriff’s department. They don’t expect to see graffiti, gang shooting, poorly maintained (or not maintained) streets, traffic jams.

Yes, by all means, let’s “review (the county’s) expenses and operational efficiencies prior to raising costs to customers.” By then it will be too late to save Douglas County.

I know that the chamber’s members are all good business people. So perhaps you’ll recognize the term we used in MBA classes for taking out as much profit as possible from an operating business without spending any money to maintain or grow it. It’s called milking a cash cow.

For the last six years members of the chamber have been milking the cash cow by enjoying low taxes and fees. But now you have to decide if you want to band together to save our community or do you want to watch our county and your businesses die?

Bob Chambers