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Letters to Editor

No on 1A

Dear Editor:

Ballot issue 1A asks us to approve a de-Bruced 7 Mill road property tax increase for four years with a 50-percent payback to metro districts and our town.

I have seven reasons why the reader should vote no on this year’s issue 1A.

Number one: History shows that taxpayers can’t be sure how the county will prioritize spending of your road tax moneys.

In 2006, we passed another 1A with the belief that road funds would increase. Unfortunately this didn’t happen. If one corrects for inflation and growth, the budgets show an average expenditure of $3.04million/year on roads during years 1999 to 2005 and that was before the 2006 1A issue passed. After the 2006 1A issue passed and moneys began to be collected, the county budgeted an equal amount of $3.06 million/year for roads even with the extra $720,000 in 1A moneys. What I believe happened is that the traditional road property tax fund decreased with a commensurate increase in non-road funds. The reduction in traditional road moneys was then backfilled with new 1A moneys. All very legal, but an inappropriate policy. There is no provision in today’s issue 1A to prevent backfilling from happening again.

Number two: Passage of this year’s 1A could lead to uncontrolled tax increases. There is a hidden escalation clause in this year’s issue 1A. By De-Brucing (De-TABORing), the 1A road property tax could increase by 25 percent or even 100 percent above the TABOR limit if history is any indication.

Number three: We, the taxpayers, cannot afford the tax burden imposed by issue 1A. In fact, the median income in Colorado is decreasing 5 percent per year and, in Archuleta County, the per capita income is not even keeping up with inflation.

Number four: We cannot afford to lose any more businesses. Right now, a business owner pays at least four times more in property tax than a homeowner and, by one account, 40 percent of commercial store fronts are already empty. We can reasonably assume that our businesses will start to fail or move out of town due to an excessive tax burden.

Number five: We cannot afford “gold plated” maintenance. The county plans to spend four times more per mile on gravel roads than Aspen Springs.

Number six: If 1A passes, metro districts will see a 200-percent increase in road property tax. If you are happy with your roads in your own metro district, why should you be forced to spend more money on roads that already suit your needs?

Number seven: The whole thesis of why we need more moneys for roads is based on results from a study entitled “5 Year Road Improvement Plan.” Unfortunately, this study has not been completed, has not been presented to the county government, has not been approved by the county government and has not seen the light of day to be peer reviewed and commented on by the public.

Therefore, I hope you will vote no on Issue 1A.

John Bozek

No on 3B

Dear Editor:

I actually read the Notice of Election voter information document mailed to registered voters by the Archuleta County Clerk. This notice deals with local election Ballot title and Text (ballot language) and summaries of written comments FOR and AGAINST the ballot issues that voters will soon decide.

Archuleta voters are becoming familiar with the details of Ballot Issues 1A and 3B. Ballot Issue 1A requests voter approval for an increase in the county road mill levy. Ballot Issue 3B (school bond) requests voter approval to issue up to $49 million in new general obligation bonds with an annual repayment cost up to $3.93 million and total repayment cost up to $98.1 million.

The Notice of Election also addresses Ballot Issue 3A (Ignacio School District) that may be of interest to some Archuleta voters who live in the Ignacio District. What I find interesting in the summaries of written comments on the Ignacio ballot issue is the publication of the current school district tax mill levies for our neighboring school districts. Those mill levies are: Ignacio 4.761, Bayfield 17.045 and Durango 16.368. Our school district’s (Archuleta 50JT) current tax levy tops the local area list at 23.476 mills — that’s significantly higher than either Durango or Bayfield.

The mill levy required to service the maximum annual district repayment cost of $3.93 million stipulated in the Ballot Issue 3B “Information on District’s Proposed Debt” is approximately 13.833 mills based upon the current assessed valuation of property within our school district. Combining our school district’s current tax levy with the potential 3B increase would result in a staggering school tax levy of 37.309 mills — that’s more than double the current Durango or Bayfield school tax mill levy.

Archuleta County families and businesses are already burdened with property taxes that are significantly higher than those of surrounding areas — how can they be asked to bear even more? Will higher property taxes help attract the new businesses that are required to provide the employment opportunities needed to support local families? I am convinced Ballot Issue 3B will destroy jobs. Impacted families will be forced to leave our community as more local businesses shutter their windows and close their doors.

I’m voting no on Ballot Issue 3B because our community cannot afford the additional tax burden it represents. There are viable alternatives to 3B such as properly maintaining our existing school structures while making sensible renovations and upgrades. Resources should be dedicated to supporting our classroom teachers as they are what really makes the difference in education.

Bob Clinkenbeard

Shame on you

Dear Editor:

Earlier this year, over eight non-profit groups who consistently produce special events in Town Park got together to strategize on how we could pool our efforts and resources and provide some consistent infrastructure needs for these events. It was determined that plastic barricade fencing and some electrical equipment were the first priorities. Since these needs were to help create an infrastructure for our main outdoor event venue — Town Park — we approached the PROST group to seek funding. Although approved by PROST, the request was denied by the BoCC as a tourism enhancement and not falling into the guidelines of what the monies for PROST should be designated for.

Not daunted by this rejection, this group went out and raised the money through working a food booth at the FolkWest Free Friday concert in Town Park. While not enough money was made to purchase the electrical equipment, enough money was raised to purchase the barricade fencing. Gratefully, all groups were able to use this fencing throughout the summer and fall festivities in Town Park. However, at the end of September, after the last event, while waiting to get some storage space at the Pagosa Youth Center for the winter, the fencing was stolen from the Chamber of Commerce. Shame on us! Due to the Chamber’s limited storage and only for a short time, the fencing — 600 feet, which takes up some space — was being stored outside under the bushes and buried under the leaves at the Chamber. Fairly well hidden from the average person!

To the person(s) who stole the fencing — shame on you! You not only stole something from the chamber, but you stole from numerous organizations in Pagosa Springs who not only try to raise money to provide much needed services to this community, but who work hard to provide entertainment to our locals and visitors alike, as well as creating an economic driver for this community. By producing special events, these events attract people to our community who spend money and help pay a lot of people’s wages. Now instead of raising money at the next event to purchase the remaining needed infrastructure, we are going to have to redouble our efforts to purchase fencing all over again and continue to meet future needs.

This is also a travesty because for once, a number of groups came together in our community, decided what was needed to help everyone and came together to raise the funds to get the infrastructure that we all needed and were prepared to share. We all pooled our resources and efforts for the betterment of all the groups and the community.

When you use this fencing, I hope you will think of how you affected not just the Chamber, but numerous organizations in this community. If you attend a function in Town Park, I hope that you will see the new fencing and know that although you created a lot of extra work for a lot of people, we were again not to be daunted and overcame another adversity. I hope that you have a very difficult time selling this fencing with others knowing how you came about it and they care enough about this community not to support your ill deeds.

I apologize to the other organizations for placing the fencing where I did, never thinking that the fencing would be stolen in that short period of time. The person even untied all the fencing that was so neatly wrapped up waiting for storage, probably to lay the fencing flatter in the truck so no one could see it. We will have the infrastructure we need by next event season. I guess this means that I will once again be jumping into the river at the Penguin Plunge over WinterFest in February to raise money to replace the fencing. Anyone wishing to donate to my Plunge Pledges to raise money for fencing benefitting the whole community, please contact me.

Mary Jo Coulehan

Airport dollars

Dear Editor:

Mr. Editor, you can’t be serious! You can’t broadcast to all of us out here in Pagosasunland that you support pouring more money into that hole in the ground called the airport. Some evil siren from outer space must have captured your brain and rendered it useless while you wrote your Sept. 29 editorial.

First of all, there are less than ten people in Archuleta County who want to spend more money on that already overpriced playground for the ultra-rich.

Second, there is no infrastructure in Archuleta County for any business at the airport.

Third, there is a commercial airport about 50 miles away in Durango that has all the needs for a commercial venture. That is less than 10 minutes at 400 mph.

Surely the best way to attract any business into Pagosa begins with the following:

One, clean up the roads coming into town. No company will spend money in a junk-filled town. Just drive into town on U.S. 160 or U.S. 84 and see the junk cars/trucks, garages and buildings that flood the view.

Two, spend that $600,000-plus annual dollars on roads. Repeat, roads. If you read your mail, you will realize that nearly everyone in Archuleta County wants better roads.

Three, do your best to make the local citizens happy. Happy people attract more happy people and businesses like happy people because they are great to do business with.

A clean, happy town will attract business.

Finally, the FAA is just like the Corps of Engineers — they must spend money to keep their jobs. They make terrible mistakes: think floods along the Mississippi River, think draining the Florida swamps, think building big airports in small towns.

Ken Durham

Go-to

Dear Editor:

Herman Cain — the only presidential candidate that would inject fresh thinking into Washington D.C., restore fiscal sanity to the federal budgeting process and speak to the public like adults in plain, non-sugar and/or spin-coated, English (“Leadership”).

Cain is my go-to in 2112. It’s ironic that a Black Presidential candidate supports the principles of the Tea Party. Progressive movement — take that race card BS and shove it up your behinds! It’s not the color of the candidate; it’s their principles and track-record that matter.

Bill Egg

Yes on 3B

Dear Editor:

3B or not 3B?

That is the question.

And the answer is: Vote yes on 3B.

Our children are the product of our love and lust. They do not choose to be born, or their parents, or where they live, or where they go to school. Surely, they would not choose to attend schools that have leaky roofs, inadequate or non-existent air handling systems, electrical systems that cannot support today’s technology and classrooms without windows.

Nor would they choose to have asphalt playgrounds or, worse yet, have to cross a four-lane highway for their physical education classes. They also would not choose to have classes in the same building that their grandparents attended.

Can these old buildings be repaired to provide a safe and reliable place for our children to learn? Maybe, but there comes a time when putting more money into something so old just does not make sense. It’s like that 1978 Olds that just lost its tranny. Should you spend $2,500 for the new transmission for a car that’s only worth $500? Probably not. It is the same with the three buildings now being used by our K-8 students. We would be putting a lot of money into buildings that have outlived their useful lives.

And now is the right time to pass a bond for new K-8 facility. Interest rates are at an all-time low. The bond will not exceed $49 million. It cannot be more, but it could decrease if the school district receives other grants or with the sale of existing property.

Nobody wants to pay more in taxes, but the cost to a homeowner is less than $7 per month for $100,000 of property assessed value — one or two lattés per week.

The kids in our community do not get to vote on this issue. It is our responsibility to provide for them. Remember, they are here because of us.

Pete Kasper

Blank check

Dear Editor:

Pig in a poke.

The BoCC expects a blank check (de-Bruce and 7 mills for four years) for a five-year road plan that doesn’t exist, and the school board expects a blank check ($49 million) for schools without any idea as to what it will buy; just give them a blank check and they will spend the money on anything they want. I can only think this is an I.Q. test of the voters in Archulate County. Hope they pass.

Carl Kummer

‘Subsidiarity’

Dear Editor:

Protesters gather to bring down the “greedy capitalist,” but ignore the “corrupt politicians” who manipulate “the system.”

The fact is that you can’t have a job unless you have an employer. And, employers can’t employ people when government spending, borrowing and regulating takes profits and investment capital from them and increases their labor costs.

Every year, the federal government takes $4 trillion dollars out of the private economy; 40 percent of this is borrowed mostly from our Social Security and pension contributions, and 60 percent is taken mostly from people who would otherwise invest in businesses and employ workers.

While government spending increases at 8 percent a year, our economy is only growing at 1 percent. Yet, the U.S. Senate is unwilling to cut this annual increase and rejects balanced budgets passed by the House of Representatives. Senators would rather cut benefits than bureaucracy. And they want to make these cuts as painful as possible to provoke street protests and cause job losses that justify new spending and more borrowing. This will increase the debt and inflation and devalue our wages and standard of living.

The root of the problem is in the centralization of power in the federal government, and the solution is “subsidiarity,” the return of power to the states, localities and the people.

We do not need 80,000 new regulations every year, and most functions of government can be managed at the local level. Protesters in the streets and politicians in Congress are not going to create one productive, permanent, private sector job. Pray that our Senators have the wisdom and fortitude to reorganize government and repay the debt. If they fail, the next time we “Remember the poor when we vote,” we’ll be considering our own impoverished situation.

Michael McCarthy

Hayward, Calif.

Our future

Dear Editor:

Three years ago, my husband, son and I were considering a move to Pagosa Springs.

We had a number of criteria in mind as we determined whether or not the move would be beneficial to the entire family. High on the list was the education of our son. He was entering his sophomore year in high school and we wanted to be sure that his high school years would be positive ones for him. We talked with the high school principal, David Hamilton, for over an hour discussing the high school curriculum, arts and extra curricular programs available, class sizes, student leadership and the teaching staff.

My son and I went to the high school to take a tour and were pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful new facility. We interviewed the teachers on hand and asked questions about their classes and teaching style. We talked with Dan Burch, the high school music director, and were assured that there were plenty of ways our son could become involved in the arts. My son gave Pagosa Springs a big thumbs up and, based on that and other criteria, we decided to make this beautiful town our new home.

Had our son been in junior high school or in elementary school, we would have had more than a few concerns about moving here. The reason being the dreadful facilities the children and teachers are required to endure day in and day out.

Those buildings speak volumes to newcomers who are considering a move to Pagosa Springs about the priority our community places on lower school education and child safety. Those old outdated buildings are not worthy of this wonderful community and should be replaced as soon as possible. Our children and teachers deserve better. Our future depends on it.

Sally Neel

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