If you watched the Glenwood Springs City Council candidate forum on March 9, there were obvious differences between the candidates running in Ward 1. Ted Edmonds’ platform is pro-business, fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget. Russ Arensman believes in deficit spending and believes the city is doing fine.
Well things aren’t just fine in the River City. The city, led by Arensman, has been deficit spending for years, this current year to the amount of almost $4 million. Arensman stated, “We made a conscious effort to deliberately spend down city reserves.”
Glenwood Springs has the worst reputation in the Roaring Fork Valley when it comes to new business projects. There is an anti-business culture at city hall. Ask any realtor, any contractor, ask anyone who has tried to do business in Glenwood.
This culture at city hall starts at the top with councilors such as Arensman. The culture between business and city hall is not symbiotic; it is one of city hall trying to take as much as they can from the business community.
Arensman stated, “It is a complicated process. We just approved a project last week with about 12 variances.” If the city had a business friendly code and regulations, a project probably would not need 12 variances to get approved.
Sales tax revenues continue to decline each month. However, the bed tax revenues, thanks to the marketing efforts of the Glenwood Springs Chamber, have started to increase. Yet this City Council led by Arensman wants to strip the tourism contract from the Chamber. Ask any tourism business if they think this City Council is pro-tourism.
I live in Ward 1 and work in the tourism business. This is an important election. Vote for Ted Edmonds who has a business background, is fiscally responsible, believes in a balanced budget and will listen to all the residents in Glenwood Springs.
My election opponent and his supporters have criticized the city for “deficit” spending during difficult times. Some additional perspective is warranted.
It is precisely because the Glenwood Springs City Council and staff have been fiscally prudent during times of plenty that we have the money to invest in infrastructure now, when construction costs are 20 to 50 percent lower and jobs are much needed.
State law requires us to balance our budget each year, but we also set aside money in various funds for special purposes, such as trails, street repairs, capital projects and bus, water and sewer services.
Our reserve funds essentially serve as savings accounts for important municipal projects. Recently we have been using some of those savings on projects such as a new wastewater treatment plant, rebuilding Donegan Road, the 27th Street roundabout, the Devereux pedestrian bridge, the whitewater park and completing the trail system to south Glenwood Springs.
This year we have budgeted further city funds for a project that will, if all goes well, keep both the library and CMC’s headquarters downtown and add significant new parking there for workers and shoppers.
These are important long-term infrastructure investments that will benefit city residents for years to come.
Yes, we spent more than our incoming revenues last year and will do so again in 2011. Remember, though, that our restricted and unrestricted fund balances at the start of this year were nearly $33 million. The city’s reserves are more than adequate, and will start to grow again as the economy recovers.
Meanwhile, we continue to adjust operational spending to reflect economic conditions. City staff have not had raises for two years, and continue to take periodic unpaid furlough days. We are reducing Ride Glenwood bus service starting next month to eliminate recurring operating losses, and working on further expense reductions.
In short, the city is in solid shape financially, and committed to using your taxes responsibly. Our recent investments position us to emerge from the current recession stronger than ever. I hope you will keep this in mind when casting your vote for City Council.
As he promised, President Obama is creating jobs. For example, in the natural resources area it is one country at a time.
Brazil is first to take away U.S. jobs and taxpayers’ money. No doubt, Obama will consult with George Soros to get the name of the No. 2 country for U.S. investment and foreign job creation.
Does Obama have any sense of country, patriotism or loyalty to the people who elected him, or is he looking for Soros’ re-election cash for 2012?
Jack E. Blankenship
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