Citizen Telegram Letters to the Editor: Rec center sales tax
Compliance audit isn’t financial health
I’ve noticed the Rifle Recreation and Community Center group promoted the recent “Clean bill of health” article in The Citizen Telegram, regarding the accounting audit of Rifle’s finances this year.
An audit does not assess how the money was spent versus its tax revenue or the financial viability of a city. It assesses the accounting procedures used and its level of compliance to government standards. I’ll agree that it’s good to know that our financial department is compliant; I think that their touting of the budget’s clean bill of health to promote their tax proposal is misleading. We don’t have questions about the accounting procedures. It’s the financial stability of the city that we’re concerned with.
Please consider the city’s financial situation before deciding whether or not to build a recreation center using sales tax. We’ve seen several articles in The Citizen Telegram illustrating the town’s financial status. They’ve all said it: Revenue down across the board, reserves may be used to cover expenses. That’s like dipping into your savings to pay your bills.
The reserves were: in 2009, over $7 million; 2010, $6 million; 2011, $5 million; 2012 $4.5 million; (May) 2013, $4 million. This trend shows we cannot afford another debt; we can’t pay our bills on our current income. Adding another bill is not going to help.
Our sales tax revenue, according to Charles Kelty, city finance director, is down 10 percent from what was projected in the 2013 budget and there’s no sign of that trend changing. Adding another long-term debt does not make sense. I understand the argument regarding construction costs now versus five years from now, but until our financial situation changes for the better and we come out with a surplus to pay back our reserves, we cannot afford another bond payment.
Rec center a plus for Rifle
We support the proposed recreation center for the Rifle community. As residents of this area for 33 years, we have come to appreciate many wonderful aspects of living here. However, we also believe that Rifle could become an even more vibrant community with a new recreation center.
Not only would it offer more recreational opportunities for current residents, it would serve as a beacon reflecting a progressive focus to help attract new businesses and residents. It would also provide additional opportunities for visitors.
The city’s current fitness center has received great support from the community, but is limited in what it can offer. A new facility will offer greater variety to a wider range of our population from art, dance and sports camps for our youth to aqua aerobics, game areas and indoor walking facilities for our seniors.
Offering quality services — as evidenced by our new hospital, fire station, library and courthouse — reflect in part what our community values. It is apparent to us that we place a strong emphasis on the well-being, safety and health of our community members. Approving a new recreation center is an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to our core values. Activities for the seasoned athlete, as well as beginners seeking a healthier lifestyle, would be offered. Families would have a place to go, year-round, to exercise together and learn together.
Your support for the new recreation center will show your commitment to the health and well-being of our communities.
Warren and Jeanie Humble
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