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Placer County taxpayer watchdog group set to fold after 39 years

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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After 39 years, the League of Placer County Taxpayers watchdog group is poised to end its ongoing battle against government waste and overspending. The non-profit organization’s board has decided to dissolve the league, turn over any surplus funding still in its coffers to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association and print one final run of 2,000 Tax Talk newspapers. Meadow Vista’s Wally Reemelin, president of the league and a founding member, said several key organization members are unwilling to continue the fight on behalf of taxpayers or have died in recent years. Reemelin, who is 93, said he’ll continue to be an advocate for conscientious spending of taxpayer dollars, particularly when it comes to finding a regional wastewater treatment solution. But the end of the year will also mark the end of the line for an organization that has raised political hackles as well as taxpayer conscientiousness on government spending. “We haven’t recruited new members and the current board is long in the tooth,” Reemelin said. “We want to wind it down. A lot of our older members are dying off.” While not specifying the amount, Reemelin said the Jarvis organization will receive a grant of the balance of the league’s financial resources. “It’s the only agency working for the public like we are,” Reemelin said. “It’s several thousand dollars and big enough for them to be thankful for it.” Over the years, the league has successfully led the drive to let Placer County voters decide on Board of Supervisors pay (it’s been limited to $30,000 annually since 1992), worked hard in the late 1970s to bring in the Howard Jarvis-led Proposition 13 property tax limits, and exposed a government-funded $10,000 plane ride to a meeting by ex-Supervisor Rocky Rockholm, who was defeated in the subsequent election. “We did a lot of good things and there still are things to do,” Reemelin said. Treasurer Betty Samson said that with Reemelin in his 90s, and both her and Vice President Dan Sokol of Auburn in their late 80s, the league needed younger leadership but hadn’t found it. “After 39 years, it’s kind of sad,” Samson said. The league recently sent out a letter to its 1,000 members stating that dissolution had been not taken lightly and was considered for several months. “The new generations seem more obsessed with twittering and tweeting brief messages,” the letter stated. “Time will tell how politically effective those actions are.” Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes said that the league has played a role over the years in decisions about government but the public will continue to be able to keep an eye on spending. Holmes added that there has been a shift toward more transparency in government in the years since the league was founded that allows the public the opportunity to better have its say. Holmes said that meetings are now televised or available on the Web, agendas, actions and news releases are posted online, and the media continues to monitor government. “There are plenty of opportunities for people to know what’s going on,” Holmes said.