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Opinion: TABOR, jobs and issues at the airport

Jim Hoffman
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Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist

Locally those fiscal conservatives who keep demanding that Congress spend less are exactly the same ones who keep putting their hand out for more and more of those federal bucks.

The latest example is our new workforce center out there on 29 1⁄2 Road. More than $4 million of federal tax dollars went into this project. There is not a single red face among the County Commissioners that are beneficiaries of what some others may classify as waste. It seems that the expenditure of tax money is only a waste if you don’t get to use it. It is highly akin to hating pork barrel spending while continuing to re-elect a Congressman who “brings home the bacon.”

It is recalled that recently the center held a “hiring event” for a local fast food outlet. It seemed in that specific instance they assumed the role of hiring agent for private industry. That was an activity that certainly could have been and should have been privatized. On Tuesday, Feb. 4, a “job fair” type event was held. We look forward to a report on how many jobs were available at the event, how many attended and how many secured employment. Let’s see some concrete outcomes.



TAX REDUCTIONS HURT



Reality and political hyperbole frequently collide.

The recently received tax notices from the county held very good news for local citizens. The onerous taxes collected by our bloated county government were less and they were going to have to spend less. That sounds exactly like the Utopian dream political activists have been force feeding us for the last many years.

The reality is that the “true” conservatives that have taken charge cannot find a way to cope with the reality they told us would be nirvana. They cannot live in a world where taxes are forcibly reduced by falling property values and the provisions of TABOR prevent them from granting themselves a big tax increase. They are now finding the outcome of their preachings for lower taxes and for the wisdom of TABOR are less than optimum.

The results have been ugly. We have seen the local D.A. threaten to use our tax dollars to sue us to obtain funds for his budget which, of course, is funded by us. We have seen a Sheriff, who is perhaps embolden by a County Commission that encourages him to ignore his oath of office and unilaterally determine which laws he should enforce, now rattle his saber and imply that he will not enforce laws the commission wants him to enforce if he does not get more money. We have seen the commission imply that our infrastructure of pools, trails and parks are not a priority. There has even been the ridiculous suggestion that private industry will somehow find it of benefit to develop parks and recreation.

Now that the County Commission has discovered the very real bite of TABOR, will we see them commit the ultimate hypocrisy and speak against it? Probably not, as that could well be political suicide. It is more likely that we will see them find more ways to circumvent it and retain funds that rightfully should be re-funded. We will also see them come to the voters asking once again for a temporary over-ride of TABOR, while failing once again to acknowledge that maybe it just does not work.

AIRPORT EXTORTION?

When we do “privatize,” we seem to do so with our tax dollars. West Star Aviation and their proposed new hangar out at Grand Junction Regional Airport come to mind. While this is not a true example of privatization, it may be another fine example of corporate welfare.

Given the current circumstance of a FBI investigation into fraud at our airport, it seems unlikely the Airport Board will be capable of securing the financing needed to build this new hangar to then lease it back to West Star. West Star promises if we do this they will then bring many high paying jobs to Grand Junction and we will all be eternally grateful.

If the airport fails to finance a new hangar, cannot West Star find financing for their expansion? If this expansion makes sense, they certainly have the ability to make it happen without the intercession of the board. While this is not intended to trivialize the very real problems occurring at the airport, one must wonder if West Star really intends to complete this expansion and if the expansion will go forward in the absence of our paying for the new building.

If this expansion makes good business sense, then it should be good enough to go forward without our guarantees.

Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at freepressjim@gmail.com.


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