Election nears; letters to the editor increase
Why the carbon tax is good
I appreciated Ed Jenkins’ letter about Carbondale’s proposed carbon tax, and I sincerely applaud him for his considerable lifestyle choices that reduce his environmental footprint. However, I support the new Climate Action Tax, and believe other Carbondale voters should too, for these reasons:
First, the Paris climate agreement gave countries and municipalities huge leverage to lead our own emissions reductions plans. In 2015, Carbondale formally called on Congress to enact a federal carbon fee and dividend by signing a resolution in support of this proposal (see http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org for information). The Climate Action Tax is a way to keep moving forward, without our more sluggish federal government. Local carbon pricing plans are a powerful signal to our leaders, and could provide a template for other communities to follow suit.
Next, winters are getting pretty depressing around here. I teach third grade at Glenwood Springs Elementary, and our winter “Expedition” was an in-depth study of the history of skiing in the Roaring Fork Valley, with a case examination of states of matter through close examination of snow. Students learned how to ski for the first time, thanks to the generosity of Sunlight and Aspen/Snowmass. I would cringe to think we taught them a sport without a local future. Moreover, I would hate to think I didn’t do everything I could, including tax myself, to protect this beautiful place for their enjoyment and safety.
Finally, for residents like Ed Jenkins who have already taken significant measures to reduce their fossil fuel use, the monthly financial impact will be minimal. The less you use, the less you pay. For most homes, the increase on utility payments will be approximately $5-7 per month. I’ll gladly pay $5 for a livable world. Yes, please.
Carbondale is the thriving community it is due to our snowy winters, full rivers and beautiful mountain ecosystem. Let’s do what we can, while we can to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in clean energy instead. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, what’s the use of an affordable house in Carbondale if you haven’t gotten a stable climate to put it in?
Tax isn’t the answer
Let’s assume that most Carbondale residents favor a healthy planet with lower greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction in global warming.
But taxing Carbondale residents almost $100 more each year is not the answer. The tax money the Board of Trustees proposes to raise would first go to hiring a new employee or consultant who presumably would spend their time making recommendations about where to spend whatever funds are left over after their compensation.
How these individuals and the trustees could spend residents’ money to increase energy efficiency of local homes and businesses by 20 percent, generate 35 percent of Carbondale’s electricity from renewable sources and reduce use of petroleum products by 25 percent is a mystery. They have no detailed plans to reach such lofty goals, yet they want a lot more of taxpayers’ money to play with.
Fellow residents and taxpayers, don’t be bullied into feeling that opposing this proposed tax means you don’t value our environment. This is just another example of a government body seeking to take more of your money and create yet another program that takes more control of your life.
And remember, this isn’t a one-time deal. Government tax-funded programs rarely fade away, but linger and typically grow (and require yet more taxes to support their expansion). We all want Carbondale, America and Earth to thrive. But this proposed costly mandate isn’t the solution. Say yes to holding on to your hard-earned wages, and no to higher taxes and bigger government.
Robert C. Hubbell
Stevens loves Basalt
This letter is on behalf of mayoral candidate Rick Stevens.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Rick for over 26 years while living in Basalt; and our children have grown up together. It has been wonderful to see the great changes that he has helped establish in the Town of Basalt.
I am the women’s Locals Ski Program coordinator for the Aspen Skiing Company. Rick has been one of the few men instructors who we have invited to teach in this program. The ladies in the groups he has taught truly love skiing with him and would request him for a number of the other clinics. He listens to what they want and delivered exactly that and more.
Rick’s love for Basalt is beyond words. He has participated in the majority of our local events, promoted Basalt and has shown great leadership for our town. I am proud to say I have lived in Basalt for 26-plus years. The valley is changing, and some change is good. I feel Rick Stevens is able to create these changes without damaging the integrity of Basalt.
This history shows us what a great job Rick has done for this community. I was fortunate to work with Rick in 1997 to start a new town festival “Basalt River Days.” At that time, the Basalt Chamber of Commerce needed help financially. Rick came up with the idea of joining this event with the chamber. Basalt River Days was a huge success and ran for over 10 years.
Because of all that he has done for our community, and all that I know he will continue to do, I am supporting Rick Stevens for the mayor in Basalt.
What’s the rush?
The proposed “Climate Action Excise Tax” that is on the April ballot is something that needs more thought and discussion before rushing to another tax increase. The proposal states the proceeds estimated at $315,000/year will be redistributed by the town trustees to existing nonprofit agencies or other unnamed beneficiaries. For this kind of money, I think we, the citizens and taxpayers paying the bills, should get something specific. We should ask and receive answers to what programs are being funded and what exactly are the projected results.
It is not enough to spend money to feel good. The money should be spent to really do good. And it should be spent in ways that have measurable outcomes that benefit all of the excise taxpayers. Unfortunately, this proposal appears to be very nonspecific and could promote misdirection and misuse of public money.
Instead of rushing into another government redistribution program with no plan, why not spend some time thinking about what could be done with $2,112,000. That is, what could actually do something good for the overtaxed citizen, and have a positive effect on the environment? For example, why not use excise tax proceeds to fund a revenue bond issue for building a 1.5- to 2-megawatt windmill? One with 100-foot blades that generate real clean power.
The six-year referendum easily covers the initial bond funding, and with a life cycle of at least 20 years, makes a major statement about our commitment to the planet. The proceeds from the Carbondale windmill could be redistributed proportionately to the payers/meters of the excise tax. That is fair. Locating the windmill in a central, leased location (parking lot, industrial park) would provide a visible statement and promote community pride.
To make this happen, we need to take time to think about making something good happen. We need to vote no on the energy tax until it can be restructured into a specific energy program that is defined and dedicated to something that will benefit all of the people, and not just a select few.
Basalt vote critical
I previously served on Basalt Town Council with Rick, Leroy and Jacque. In this election I’m supporting Jacque, Jenn and Katie.
Basalt is at a crossroads. Our leaders are dealing with complex issues such as downtown redevelopment, insufficient affordable housing, the need for more professional jobs and gentrification pressures. We don’t need a laissez faire approach to growth. Our leaders need to think critically and ask tough questions, such as Mayor Whitsitt did recently: “When Willits fully builds out, what’s the traffic impact?” It’s clear that thanks to her leadership a number of big mistakes have been averted.
To better balance the board Jacque also needs a few smart colleagues. Jenn Riffle is a healthy lifestyle entrepreneur who has worked hard to maintain our small-town character by spearheading an ordinance that serves to both maintain vitality and foster sustainability in Basalt.
Katie is a former banker, Basalt trustee, and current board member of the Crown Mountain Park & Recreation District, where she has kept a keen eye on the fiscal realities around building an appropriately sized Recreation Center. These three leaders will show up, do their homework and engage neighbors in the governance of Basalt.
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