Bunch’s votes

Dear Editor:

Letters to the editor supporting Director Bunch’s re-election to the PAWSD Board have challenged letters opposing his re-election citing “misinformation” and characterizing the assertion that Director Bunch voted against referring future debt and tax increases to a vote of PAWSD property owners and rate payers a “political red herring.” The only “political red herring” I see is the attempt to ignore Director Bunch’s votes and avoid talking about the issue of bringing the district back under the restrictions of TABOR.

Director Walsh put two items on the agenda for the PAWSD Board meeting last August. First was making revenue bonds subject to the approval of voters by way of a by-laws change. There was much “angst” about how to properly phrase the new by-law and structure the election and it was criticized as non-binding and largely symbolic since any future board could just change the by-law. The by-laws change was finally approved by a 3-2 vote (Director Bunch voting no).

The second item was bringing the district back under TABOR protection, which would limit property tax increases to the rate of inflation. This issue was pushed down the road by referring the question of how to put the TABOR issue on the ballot to the PAWSD consulting attorney for an opinion. Subsequently the item was voted on after the attorney said it should not be a problem. The vote to put TABOR on this PAWSD ballot failed by a 2 to 2 vote and one abstention, with Director Bunch again voting no.

Districts subject to TABOR restrictions must get voter approval for any bonds that would be paid back via a local tax increase. In addition, and maybe more importantly, TABOR directly addresses spending limits and the amounts of revenue that can be retained by PAWSD other than “for emergencies.” There is no distinction between revenue bonds and general obligation bonds in the Constitution text on TABOR. I think it can be argued that however the District gets the extra money, voter approval on how it gets spent or kept for future spending should be required.

Your personal debt, like a home mortgage or car loan, and PAWSD debt, like a revenue bond or a general obligation bond, are a lot alike in one critical way. You have to pay for debts you make — and you also have to pay for debts PAWSD makes. The difference is you make your own decisions on personal debt, but don’t get to vote on PAWSD debt. Director Allan Bunch clearly does not want you to have a say in any of the debt PAWSD incurs, even though you are making the payments.

Candidates Paul Hansen and Gordon McIver have made the two key commitments: They will not support any new debt and they insist any new debt approved by the PAWSD board be voted on by PAWSD customers. If you think you should have a “say” if you have to “pay” — vote for Hanson and McIver next Tuesday, May 6, at the PAWSD offices.

Jim Huffman

This story was posted on May 1, 2014.