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Decades of debt

Dear Editor:

I urge my fellow town citizens to vote against the proposed recreation center.

I love Pagosa Springs. Anyone who knows me knows there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for this community. I also love children and recreation. I was raised playing sports in Pagosa and I have raised my kids up to enjoy playing sports at the community center and in the schools. To me, it’s not just about my family or my kids, that is why I spent so many years on the School Board and now serve on the Board of County Commissioners — because I know this community and because I care.

I would love to go watch my grandkids lighting up three pointers on the basketball courts in a shiny new rec center. That would be awesome and maybe someday it will happen. However, it shouldn’t happen now. Timing is everything and the timing is not right. It is a bad financial decision.

I’m not against rec centers. I’m against spending up to $44.9 million on this rec center and paying up to 8.9 percent interest for up to 25 years. I’m against the town obligating two-thirds of our sales tax as collateral for an additional one-third debt.

First, it is bad financial planning to commit the town to a 25-year, 45-million-dollar loan. Secondly, the Town (and the county) have projects which we have started and which need to be completed before taking on 45 million dollars in debt. For instance, the Town-to-Lakes Trail should be completed, in the town; deferred maintenance on roads should be caught up. Thirdly, not only will the town be saddled with having to try and pay back the debt on the construction but the proposed rec center will not be financially viable and the town will have to subsidize the operational costs. Fourthly, this type of reckless spending is one of the reasons why the federal government is in such financial trouble — let’s not make the same short-sighted spending decisions in Pagosa.

This is not a decision about whether or not you support recreation, this is not a decision of town versus county. This is an opportunity to clearly communicate that the citizens of the Town of Pagosa Springs demand continued fiscal responsibility and do not want to be burdened with decades of debt.

Clifford Lucero

This story was posted on March 13, 2014.