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November 02, 2005

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Publication Date: Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Guest opinion: How tax funds were spent Guest opinion: How tax funds were spent (November 02, 2005)

By George Comstock

As a member of the volunteer Portola Valley Town Council, I feel the sting of the accusations being leveled against me and my colleagues regarding our stewardship of the proceeds from the Utility Users' Tax that has been reaffirmed repeatedly by our voters over the last 20 years.

While we on the council understand the fear that motivates this opposition, it feels very discouraging to this volunteer that in order to derail this tax, a vociferous opposition to the evolving Town Center safety solution would use distortions, innuendo, and untruths to deprive the town government of this revenue, which is a major support for operations and our open space acquisition program. About 80 to 90 percent of the money raised by the tax has gone into paying expenses that could not be covered by other sources of revenue. The 10 to 20 percent remainder has contributed over the years to building a reserve fund to be used for emergencies. Over the last few years about 10 percent of that reserve has enabled us to study the geology of our Town Center in enough detail to prove unambiguously that we are sitting on a time bomb analogous in its potential impact to the levee failures in New Orleans - an emergency that we cannot continue to brush under the table. Another comparable amount has been used to conduct architectural studies seeking, with extensive public input, solutions to this problem and to retain the services of fund-raising consultants to help us understand the full range of alternatives that exist for financing the solution(s) that will ultimately, with more public input, be chosen. I don't just believe, I know the council has tried hard to keep this an open, participative process. There is nothing hidden about it. It hurts to be accused of skullduggery when there is none. I count on our voters to look at the honest facts and say "Yes" on propositions H and I on November 8. George Comstock is Town Council member and former mayor.

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