Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The oil and gas industry provides Colorado with more than $23 billion a year, and 70,000 jobs to Coloradans, including my husband and myself. It provided $140 million in severance taxes in 2009, and pays close to $150 million in property taxes each year.
The natural gas industry in Colorado can fuel 700,000 cars and heat 289,000 homes every day, and has enough reserves to meet the needs of more than 12 million homes for 15 years.
The city of Rifle received $993,000 in severance tax dollars in 2010. Colorado State Trust Lands received $225 million in royalties and rent, and Colorado received an additional $106.7 million in returned federal royalties in 2005, with more than half going to counties, cities and grant programs.
EnCana gave a $56,000 grant to the Rifle Branch Library, which they invested in high efficiency heaters that dropped utility costs more than 30 percent. They gave Colorado Mountain College $3 million for the West Garfield Campus, and paid for improvements to County Road 319.
Williams gave $1 million to Colorado Mountain College.
My sources for this information are the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, rockiesenergyworkforce.org, and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
These companies purchase our children’s 4H animals, participate in YouthZone, Habitat for Humanity and other community projects.
I live with gas wells near my home. My family, neighbors and I are all healthy and we don’t get royalties.
If you don’t like the industry, then find a different way to heat your home and drive your vehicles. How about walking to work?
What source of energy do you plan to replace natural gas? Because no matter what it is, it will decorate the landscape of this valley. Solar panels take up acres of land, and windmills are eyesores forever.
Then you need to find something that can supply all the jobs, including the ones you want to take away from my family, and the lost revenue to this state and local communities.
If you think your economy is crippled now, let me hear your thoughts when you chase this industry out.
What do we value? If something is valued in our society it is assigned a dollar amount by an economist. Everything valuable to us is understood in terms of dollars and cents.
What is often not properly understood, however, is that money is only valuable insofar as it can be exchanged for the things we actually value, things like healthy fresh food, clean air and water, a beautiful peaceful home, to name a few.
In our economic system we take raw materials from the natural world surrounding us, process them in one way or another and exchange them for money. Oftentimes, the methods employed in the harvesting of the raw material are so destructive to the land as to preclude any other use. Cities are incompatible with agriculture, mountaintop removal mining cannot occur in the same location as a tree farm, and potable water cannot be drawn from the same well as natural gas. In these cases, a decision is made as to the most valuable use of the land.
I am reminded of the fable of the goose who laid the golden eggs. When the owners of the goose waited patiently, the goose laid her golden egg every day and it was enough to meet their needs. Of course they succumbed to their greed and imagined if they were to cut open they goose’s belly, they would find a great many eggs and be wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. But we all know they ended up with was a dead goose.
Silt Mesa, Peach Valley and the surrounding areas have been laying modest golden eggs for many years now, grazing for cattle, sheep and llamas, fruit orchards and vegetable farms, tree farms and nurseries, horse farms, hay and alfalfa fields, and most importantly hard working men and women living the American dream on their beautiful homesteads.
I would like to suggest, as we embark upon this latest economic endeavor, that we ask ourselves what we value most and if we will be required to sacrifice any of these things for monetary profit.
I am not opposed to the concept of a gold driving range at Wulfsohn Ranch, but I do have concerns regarding the one to be discussed at City Council tonight as being best for the Glenwood Springs at this time.
However, I do believe there is room for government participation in certain private enterprises. City government and the private sector can partner on many initiatives at the local level.
With respect to tourism, the city of Glenwood Springs maintains oversight of a long-standing program to funnel accommodation tax revenues to support our local tourism marketing efforts — efforts that support our local businesses. This is not a unique effort, as most tourist destination towns across Colorado engage in similar efforts.
The city has developed infrastructure for use by many private enterprises to support river rafting and fishing access, whitewater park access and features, paragliding business base support, airport hangars, and even a lease for independently managed golf at The Hill.
The city’s Financial Advisory Board, on which I sit, makes recommendations on tax dollar awards that support both social service endeavors within our community as well as certain tourism oriented events and initiatives. All of this tax money is provided to private entities, some for-profit, some not.
I see this driving range proposal as a step to encourage more activity for tourists and more amenities for our community members. It may not be the “right” proposal, but I do think discussion is appropriate.
The magnitude of the economic challenges we face today have not been experienced by this community since the oil shale bust many years ago. I believe it’s extremely important for our local government to what it can to foster economic development that is in the best interest of our citizens. Considering a public-private partnership to develop a driving range is, at minimum, a prudent undertaking.
Matthew Steckler, City Councilor
I write regarding the discussion and/or action on the golf driving range at Wulfsohn Ranch to be held tonight by the Glenwood Springs City Council.
As a past member of the Wulfsohn planning discussions and a very interested member of the community, I urge the city council to follow staff recommendations regarding the proposed driving range. Council should reject the proposal and all future proposals of this project, which suggest a commercial intrusion into an open space area that is inappropriate in and of itself.
Using one cent of public tax money, not to mention the $103,000 for a “start-up” cost to finance a private venture, is ludicrous in this or in any other economy. I shudder to think of the funds squandered over time.
A letter from the developer states that there is a need for a city partnership to assure the driving range has “staying power” and “profits for investors.”
Plus, it mentions the silly “fact” that there is no place for kids to practice. With golf courses all around, including the municipal golf course, certainly there are places for kids to practice.
And frankly, no one should start or invest in a business that has no staying power without government tax support, nor should we care one bit if the investors need a profit if they are so inclined to invest in an unprofitable business.
Please do not insult the local taxpayers in this economy with any further discussion of this financially ridiculous and location-inappropriate plan.
Interested in seeing this proposal? Go to http://www.cogs.us and click on “current council packet.”
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