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Opinion: Happy news in Grand Junction

Jim Hoffman
CONSIDER THIS
Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist

You have grown accustomed to and even expect and demand snarky comments within this column; today let’s do something a bit more positive.

County Budget: Without great fanfare and little notice, the Mesa County Commissioners recently responded to declining revenue by doing some budget cutting.

Government seldom conforms to basic budgeting we all need to adhere to in order to maintain a financially solvent household (i.e. spending less when we are making less). When government does reduce spending (or threaten to cut spending when asking for a tax increase), it most frequently seems to be in an area we hold most dear — schools, police protection and the like. Government it seems is often passive aggressive, punishing us for reduced income rather than seeking to examine budgets and reduce expenditures with an eye to revamp the bureaucracy that consumes a large slice of the pie.



Our commissioners working hand-in-hand with their new county administrator, Tom Fisher, have done the later. While they may spend too little on our pet projects (Riverfront Trail and parks) and too much on their pet project (County Fairgrounds), when it came to developing a budget with reductions that may continue to produce reduced spending for years to come, they found a way.

In a most shocking decision, they decided to implement what most voters have long called for — reduced government. The commission opted to downsize by elimination of management positions. By eliminating some and combining others, they have achieved a level of validation not necessarily gained by earlier actions. By cutting staff, and by cutting from the top, they have greater title to their fiscal conservative claims.



ON A STATE LEVEL

Senator Steve King: As he winds up his final term in the State Senate, King has become one of some accomplishment.

His long-sought fleet of air tankers to combat wildfires within Colorado may finally come into existence. King, along with both Republican and Democratic colleagues, are taking the necessarily steps to find funding for the purchase and/or leasing of the necessary planes.

King had previously spoken of “free” tankers available as government surplus, however there is a very real cost associated with the acquisition, retrofitting and maintenance of these assets. We hope that his plan moves forward and proves to be the benefit he envisions at a cost we can accept.

This accomplishment may not boost his stock with some number of local Republicans; it requires the spending of money and cooperation with Democrats in Denver to get his signature legislation enacted and funded. Many seem to perceive cooperation and bipartisanship as weakness and a violation of conservative values.

ON WEST STAR

Due to the problems swirling around our Grand Junction Regional Airport, it became impossible to provide West Star Aviation with the incentives for which they hoped. West Star had a tough decision to make: “Do we expand our business with our own bucks so we can make more money, or do we not do so because government is not going to help us?”

Congratulations for becoming a poster child for free enterprise! West Star is big enough, strong enough and with enough resources to expand their business without our help. Of course they, like any business, were not adverse to a little help from government if it reduced their exposure and increased their bottom line. But in the absence of a handout, they opted to go it alone — just as a business should and what free enterprise is all about.

Of late questions are more frequently raised as to the viability and long-term benefit (if any) of economic subsidies to businesses to either re-locate or expand here. This episode adds more depth to that discussion.

GJ Free Press columnist 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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