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Mark Weiler, one of Pagosa’s prominent businessmen, has applied to the Town voters for the job of Mayor. What has Mr. Weiler, apart from his confident showmanship, actually accomplished for Pagosa Springs? Surprisingly little if you stop listening to his self-advertisements and look at his record.
Mark Weiler failed to complete his first term on the Town Council. His most memorable proposal was an attempt to fire nearly one-quarter of the Town staff in late 2008. His opponent in the race for mayor, Shari Pierce, successfully opposed his “sky is falling” warnings and advocated a smart and sensible budget reform. The budget was cut, and salaries were frozen, but no one was fired. Mr. Weiler likes to take credit for this reasonable plan five years later.
Mark Weiler next headed the committee which proposed the Town-to-PAWSD sewer pipeline. Again, there were grand promises. Savings of millions of dollars. Instead, the price tag increased 40 percent before a shovel was overturned. Today the project is mired in eminent domain legal actions because the basic survey and easement documents were defective. Another example of Mr. Weiler’s public promises followed by very poor performance.
Now, Mark Weiler is the chief proponent of the 25-year, $45 million Recreation Center debt proposal. Mr. Weiler is also a public proponent of taking a second mortgage on Town Hall and other Town properties in return for more millions of debt.
Mark Weiler promised to bring his financial expertise to the Recreation Center proposal. He claimed to have studied the monthly sales tax receipts for 20 years. Another promise of professionalism. Then, three weeks before the ballots were mailed, the sales tax projections supporting the Recreation Center fell by over 20 percent. Apparently Mr. Weiler failed to realize that a Town sales tax would not apply to retail sales located outside the Town boundaries. This oversight has resulted in a fantastical rewrite of financial projections to justify the rec center. The past seven years of flat sales taxes are going to magically become “blue skies forever” — 5 percent growth year after year for 25 years projected.
This is Mark Weiler’s Recreation Center: A super-sized facility originally planned for the “inevitable growth” of 2006, with a complicated mortgage (interest rates up to 8.9 percent) and inadequate income for the operation and maintenance of the project, which could easily result in a $750,000 deficit in the existing Town budget. Aren’t those the same factors that nearly destroyed our nation’s economy in 2008?
Mark Weiler makes no secret that he is wealthy. If he believes so strongly in this recreation center, why not finance it from his great wealth? The Weiler Recreation Center could be his greatest legacy. Wealthy residents generously donated to the hospital. Why not the rec center? But the only offer Mark Weiler has made is to put a struggling Town in debt to the tune of $45 million.
Town voters, please reject Mark Weiler’s application for the job of Mayor.