Phil Dirkx

Changes and voter choices generate gratitude

phild2008@sbcglobal.netNovember 22, 2012 

Democracies usually end up doing the right thing (although often as a last resort). So, on Thanksgiving Day I felt thankful that Paso Robles, my hometown, is as good a place as any.

I’m thankful that the lane-striping on our busiest streets was finally redone. It was faded and obliterated. It hadn’t been done for several years. City officials said they couldn’t afford to do it because of the recession. But, now it’s done and I can change lanes or make a turn without feeling daring.

I’m also thankful Paso Robles’ 13th Street bridge over the 101 Freeway is being remodeled. Sections are being demolished and rebuilt; crossing it is a pain, but it’s bound to end up being an improvement. It was built wrong when the freeway was put in around 1957.

Riverside Avenue crosses 13th Street right at the end of the bridge. The corners are impossibly sharp, so trucks and buses that turn right must swoop way out.

Workers are also constructing a new freeway on-ramp four blocks to the north. We Roblans are thankful for that. Many of us feel Paso’s freeway access is skimpy and inconvenient. There’s a legend that state highway engineers designed the freeway to punish Paso Robles for resisting their plan to run it around the city instead of through it.

And I’m thankful Paso Robles is finally drawing plans to build a treatment plant for its allotment from the Nacimiento Water Project. The pipeline has carried water for two years right through Paso Robles, and the city fully pays for its share. But it’s never taken a drop because it has no treatment plant.

It hasn’t had the money to build one. It took four years to overcome the opposition to the needed
water-rate increase. City officials now expect to have the plant treating some Nacimiento water in 2014.

I’m also thankful that on Nov. 6 the majority of Paso Robles’ voters agreed to raise our sales tax by a half cent per dollar. It will start April 1 and continue for 12 years. City officials expect it to yield $3 million per year. We also voted to advise the city council to spend it on streets.

And I’m thankful we California voters approved Proposition 30. It raises our sales tax by a quarter of a cent for four years starting Jan. 1. It also raises the state income tax for taxpayers making more than $250,000 per year. Now our schools won’t go completely broke.

And finally, I’m thankful that the majority of voters showed more common sense than those politicians who’ve been stampeded into pledging to never raise taxes.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.

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