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Clear the air

Dear Editor:

It’s time to clear the air of misinformation concerning the upcoming ballot measure to create a public recreation center from a 1-percent sales tax increase. This community has an extraordinary opportunity to create an affordable, family-oriented facility, and it’s crucial that voters fully understand the issues and costs involved. Here are the facts.

The ballot asks voters to approve a 1-percent sales tax increase to fund up to $18 million in bonds solely for the purpose of creating a public recreation center. That’s 1 penny on the dollar. If you spend $5,000 per year locally, you will pay an extra $4.17 tax per month. That’s about a dollar per week.

It’s not a “forever” tax. When the bond is paid off, the 1-percent tax stops. The bond will not affect property taxes.

It will not cost $45 million; this inflated number, required by TABOR law for ballot language, has been misused to bolster the arguments of naysayers. In reality, we will pay one cent more for every dollar spent locally, and the bond has a maximum of $18 million, plus interest. The maximum possible payoff amount, even if sales tax collections never increased at all for 25 years, is $31 million.

Now is the ideal time to create a rec center in Pagosa. Bond rates are at all-time lows, around 4.5 percent (not 8.9 percent according to naysayers). If/when rates increase in the next few years, this project may not be feasible for a 1-percent tax increase.

The Rec Center is self-funding, which means that the 1-percent tax both builds the building and covers the operating expenses along with revenue from programs and memberships. No Town budget funds will be needed. In addition, a reserve fund that will accumulate during the life of the bond can be used to retire the debt early or pay for operations once the bond is paid off.

This project does not impact the Town reserves or budget, so it will not delay or stop other Town projects. It also does not limit the Town’s future borrowing capacity.

Our rec center will not be a “job killer” as has been claimed by certain local leaders with no facts to back their claim. A formal independent study of the rec center proposal by Region 9 actually showed it would create up to 22 local jobs and contribute over $800,000 annually in positive economic impact. See the study at www.pagosareccenter.com.

Buildout of the trail system will not be affected. The largest roadblock to building more trails is granting of easements by private property owners. The Town cannot apply for trail grants unless all easements are in place.

Only Town residents can vote on our rec center because County leaders chose not to accept the Town’s invitation to participate. The Town Council can only present ballot measures to Town residents.

Forward-thinking voters will recognize this opportunity to provide a long-term benefit to the community. Vote yes.

Tim and Gwen Taylor

This story was posted on April 3, 2014.
  • ajpagosa

    Hard to know where to start with the misinformation you’ve presented here. Let us just stick to one thing. Nearly the entire cost to build and finance a rec center will leave the county. It will go to bankers and some large construction firm.

    That is up to $45M that will not be spent here, cannot be invested in local jobs or development. It is money sucked out of residents pockets forever, and sent off somewhere who knows where. It is money that cannot be used for town or county infrastructure improvements, and you will not be able to raise taxes again for a long long time. Especially when people realize what a boondoggle you’ve created.

    You will be running at least a $550,000/yr operating deficit. Those are your own consultant’s numbers, right out of the Ballard & King study. That is BEFORE you factor in the $250,000/yr of operations and maintenance costs no longer covered by the new tax. Because during planning someone conveniently forgot or ignored not all county sales are town sales, the revenue available is only 78% of what you rec center folks initially told us. That is why the bank cut our credit line almost 10%, and why we cannot borrow $18M for 20 years anymore. So this is now a $800,000/yr hole in the budget. And that is if one believes your extremely optimistic user fees and operating costs projections.

    And the 5% growth rates for 25 years? Please, that is an insult to anyone who knows how to use a calculator.

    We could easily see a $1,000,000/yr operating deficit. Which is why the bank wants us to put up $1.7M/yr out of our current general fund as collateral. It will be difficult or impossible to finish existing unfunded programs let alone start new ones if this passes.

    If anyone is left who is undecided, please think about these issues before you vote. There is a reason why 3 out of 4 candidates for mayor, and all 3 county commissioners are against this proposal. It is a budget killer.

    Please vote NO on 25 years and $5M debt.