Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County will not give $5,000 to help the Capitol Christmas Tree project.
Because it was non-budgeted funding, a 4/5 majority was needed to approve the donation. Supervisors Dick Pland and Evan Royce voted in opposition this morning.
“It is a matter of principle,” says Royce. “It is a relatively small sum of money in the scheme of things, but I don’t feel it is a good display of resource stewardship for the people of our county.”
Board Chair John Gray supported giving the donation and felt it would be a good way to market the county outside the region. In return for the donation, the organizers were planning to place a picture of the county flag on the side of the truck that travels to Washington, DC.
District One Supervisor Liz Bass and CAO Craig Pedro pointed out that this would not be the first time funding would go towards marketing Tuolumne County. The county helps subsidize the Mother Lode Roundup Parade, the exhibit at the California State Fair, the Film Commission, Visitors Bureau and Economic Development Authority. The County also provided seed money to move the historic Jamestown Jail to Rocca Park.
“I think, unfortunately, this has gotten twisted up in some kind of national politics, which I think it has nothing to do with,” added Bass. “I think it is a once in a lifetime kind of thing where we participate and acknowledge that we are attached to the United States of America. What could be wrong with that?”
District Two Supervisor Randy Hanvelt proposed that residents interested in helping could donate to the county, and anything under $5,000 be reimbursed by General Fund contingencies. Hanvelt, Gray and Bass immediately spoke up and said that they would all individually pledge $100. In the end though, the proposal to give money was voted down 3-2.
The County did vote 5-0 to still request that the organizers place a picture of the county flag on the side of the truck. The Board seemed to acknowledge though that there was little chance of this request getting approved.
Supporters of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree have been working to raise $300,000 for the project. This year’s tree is coming from the Stanislaus National Forest.