Letter: Using existing street tax, squeezing budget are not real solutions
Using existing street tax, squeezing budget are not real solutions
Many years of postponed decisions means that we live in a town with failing streets. Many must be totally rebuilt. Voters will decide during the forthcoming municipal election whether to enact a temporary 0.75-cent increase in our retail sales tax to support $56 million in critical construction needs. This new tax cannot go toward new streets and will go away when the work is complete. According to our Chamber, 73 percent of retail taxes are now paid by individuals living outside of our city limits. For a family of four residing in city limits and making Glenwood’s median household income, the impact would be an increase of $87.15 in retail sales tax annually, $7.26 each month, or about 24 cents each day.
I don’t like increased taxes, but I can say as a city councilor that the city has been fully transparent about all costs. A third-party engineering analysis of all city streets and a full examination of all alternatives fueled the council’s unanimous vote to refer this issue to voters. Full construction schedules and a map of all city streets showing the year that they’re scheduled for construction can be found on this citizen website: fixourstreetsnow.org
Several opposing letters to the editor essentially make two arguments: (1) the city should simply use the existing 0.5-cent street tax to reconstruct our streets, and (2) the $56 million can be found by squeezing the city’s budget harder. Both arguments are insufficient to turn back the health of our streets and quality of life for our neighborhoods. The existing street tax generates about $2.5 million annually. If these revenues were directed solely to reconstruction — meaning that no other routine street expenses could be undertaken including snow removal, pot hole repair, street sweeping, etc. — it would take more than 22 years to fully meet the construction schedule while likely doubling the total dollars required. Squeezing the city budget also has a common-sense limit. In 2018, for example, the city generated about $17.3 million in general fund revenue. To meet $56 million street needs would require diverting one-third of these revenues (or $5.6 million each year for 10 years). The result would require cutting or eliminating current levels of city service. If either of these arguments held water, we wouldn’t need an election.
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CORE Act does not propose Wilderness designation on Thompson Divide
Mesa County’s opposition to the CORE Act is a surprise to us for several reasons: First, none of the lands covered by the CORE Act are in Mesa County. Second and specifically to their comments regarding the Thompson Divide, the CORE Act does not propose Wilderness designation for any lands in the Thompson Divide.
What the CORE Act does for the Thompson Divide is provide common-sense provisions to protect ranching, hunting and recreation while protecting its unique landscape and economic benefits for the local communities and our county. At the same time, it respects all valid rights of leaseholders, even offering leaseholders the option to receive credits if they choose not to develop their valid leaseholds. I hope the Mesa County commissioners understand this important distinction and reconsider their position on the CORE Act.
Pitkin County Commissioner
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