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I recently asked several community leaders what is holding them back from progress on community projects. They are names you would quickly recognize, working on things we need and can achieve.
In response to my question, each of them said that it is an attitude that is pervasive in our community that we are not deserving of community improvements and progress toward vitality. So what is vitality? A vital community has community capacity — the ability to effectively plan, make decisions, and act together — and realize positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes.
In contrast, the “poverty mentality” means we think, focus on and obsess over what we think we can’t do, don’t have, or can’t afford.
The attitude can persist — certainly among the many who do struggle to make ends meet — but oddly, even among those with means. The poverty mentality in our community is pervasive and is a mindset — an attitude — that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Making decisions based on fear of loss or failure never leads toward prosperity. In fact, fear-based decision-making can rob us of any success.
This mentality is apparent in all of the emotional, wildly speculative and desperate controversy surrounding the proposed Town Recreation Center. Many are confused or are twisting and misrepresenting numbers in a desperate attempt to confuse the issue.
Some are fearful and believe we are aspiring beyond our means, even though other communities our size have successfully built and managed recreation centers and have had a positive experience. We have learned from them the keys to success. What’s more, we will be able to finance it with a self-funding revenue bond, taking advantage of historically low interest rates which will likely soon be gone.
Let’s take stock of the actual growth of our sales tax revenue over time. We now have 20 years of actual data, including data through the latest deep recession and the tax revenues have steadily grown every year. Tractor Supply will definitely add to the sales tax collection base, as will Wal-Mart if they follow through with plans. But none of that has been included in financial projections and yet they still come out positive.
Is our future really so dark and dire that it will be worse than the recent recession? I think not. So the poverty mentality is at play in the doom and gloom forecast of economic peril.
Another rumor is that the cost is $45 million. The cost is really $18 million with another $1.5 million in reserve to get a better bond rating, a lower interest rate and cover operating expenses if we have a sales tax shortfall, rather than dipping into any general fund revenue,
Why can’t Pagosa move into the future of healthy communities that offer their residents more? I believe we deserve more.
Self-belief, acknowledging the resources we actually do have, aspiring to a realistic goal we can achieve, feeling a sense of empowerment and taking action is what it takes to overcome the poverty mentality.