Citizen Telegram Letters to the Editor: Rifle rec center sales tax, business development

Blue sky thinking

Blue sky: 1) having little or no value; 2) not grounded in the realities of the present.

This became a term and eventually a law in the securities world. It is said to have originated in the early 1900s, when a Supreme Court justice declared his desire to protect investors from speculative ventures that had “as much value as a patch of blue sky.”

The proposed recreation center seems to fit this category, as Rifle businesses close doors for good. Store fronts remain empty and for long periods. Where are the businesses that will support the sales tax increase to pay for the $21 million plus interest? If the community supports this tax increase, and the center is built, what happens if we default on the payments?

My questions led me to the City Council packet of Feb. 13. This workshop between the Rifle Regional Economic Development Council and First Southwest was to discuss the finance plan and Southwest’s recommendations for the rec center. Included is appendix A, a description of what happened to a town in Minnesota that bought high grade bonds to support the payments of a sports center. They couldn’t afford to make payments and the high grade bonds were downgraded to “junk bonds.”

They report that this deal “like other struggling or failed economic development supported by municipalities, underscores the importance of a credit review that looks at direct and indirect debt and assesses the ability of a government to support a project should it fail to meet expectations.”

What would Rifle have if we vote for this sales tax increase to spend millions of dollars on a recreation center and we don’t have the businesses to support the payments? A patch of blue sky! Vote no in September.

Phyllis Billmeyer


Great idea, wrong time

While I will agree that it would be very nice to have a recreation and community center in Rifle, I also believe that raising the sales tax at this time to pay for the facility is wrong.

We have just raised the sales tax to pay for a new water facility, which will not be available for two years. Please take the time to drive around Rifle and look at the yards that are dry or gone, the homes that are empty because of a move or foreclosure, and the commercial buildings that are vacant. Our economy leaves a lot to be desired, and very few jobs are being developed. Businesses are still hurting and are not sure how the new Obamacare and this winter are going to affect the bottom line. While some may be able to afford the extra money for the sales tax increase, there are a great majority in our community that are still just barely getting by financially.

Keep in mind that even if we raise the sales tax to pay for this center, there will still be other expenses, like membership fees, etc. While I believe a recreation and community center is a great idea, this is the wrong time to increase sales tax to build this facility. Great idea, wrong time. Vote no on question D on the Sept. 10 ballot.

Judy Hewitt


Seniors already have a senior center

Seniors already have a center, which the city supports, and it’s budgeted for $527,520 this year. Activities include lunches, card playing, card tournaments, bingo, monthly dances, day trips and many others.

When many seniors have less than $1,000 a month of income to pay housing, utilities, Medicare (oh yes, Medicare does come out of Social Security checks), Part D insurance for drug coverage, (a requirement of the feds or you are subject to penalties) and supplemental insurance.

If you own a vehicle, you have maintenance, (tires, oil changes, air and oil filters, etc.), gas, license plates and, to be legal, auto insurance.

If you own a home, you have homeowners insurance, property taxes, and maintenance. There are taxes on our phone bills and utility bills.

Have I left anything out? Oh yeah, if you have anything left over, you might, just might, be able to go to the grocery store for a few eats. Have you noticed that food prices are up, but the package sizes are down? We are taxed on goods and some food items at the store.

The Committee for a Rifle Recreation and Community Center is selling the citizens of Rifle a budget buster bill of goods! The city of Rifle’s flier on the recreation center states $42 million could be added to city debt, bringing the total debt, in a worst-case scenario, for the city of Rifle to a whopping $75.1 million! Take heed, this is unsustainable debt for approximately 9,000 citizens to take on.

Connie Hollenbeck


Rec center will help Rifle’s economy

Please vote yes on the Rifle Recreation and Community Center sales tax ballot question. I believe the community as a whole will benefit from a facility like this, even if every citizen doesn’t utilize the actual structure.

I recently served food at a CrossFit competition at the Glenwood Springs Recreation Center (kudos to Thad and McKenzie for a fantastic event). As I observed throughout the day, many parts of the community benefitted financially from this one-day event. The competition brought teams from all over Colorado. Those people spent money in Glenwood Springs on dining, gas, lodging, groceries and services.

It was also great exposure for Glenwood Springs to likely bring some people back to the city to stay and play; I went to dinner that evening and saw the competitors all over downtown. Local vendors attended the event and got their names out in the community.

The event made me realize that with the ability to bring that much money into a community in one day, why wouldn’t we want a similar facility in Rifle? I don’t see anything wrong with wanting a better quality of life in our great little town. We have great potential to stimulate the economy with a recreation and community center.

It’s about the bigger picture, not just if you are a person who works out or swims or has children. We, as a city, have outgrown our current facilities, and it’s time to build the future of the community as a whole. I am very proud to call Rifle my home and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this beautiful little place.

I urge everyone who plans on voting to please educate yourself and read the facts before you vote.

Elissa Nye


Four corners

You are right [McKibbin’s Scribblin’s, The Citizen Telegram, Aug. 15, 2013]. Rifleites need to encourage business and industry in Rifle.

I was 5 when we moved to Rifle in 1945, where my dad found employment at Union Carbide’s vanadium plant. Then came Anvil Points, the Bureau of Mines oil shale project, followed by Union Oil, Exxon and, lastly, the natural gas production companies.

With any small town, there is an effort to keep it small and comfortable, which means fighting against progress or making doing business there expensive. I live in Fort Worth, Texas, and we are not small. Fort Worth gives temporary tax breaks to companies who will locate here. We welcome “outsiders.”

Burlington Northern Railroad built its headquarters here, Lockheed Marietta has been here forever, Motorola makes cell phones here, American Airlines, Pier One and Radio Shack have their headquarters here, Bell Helicopter has been here a long time. And, much like Garfield County, Tarrant County has had thousands of natural gas wells drilled (and fracked), many within the city limits.

There cannot be an attitude against growth, Rifleites need to be thankful for what the oil shale, natural gas, vanadium, uranium and out-of-state hunters have done to the economic well being of “their” town. Rumor has it that at one time, Cabela’s was looking at Rifle. Rifle should have been talking tax abatements and encouragement.

A few years ago, Rifle imposed a bed tax on hotel occupancy, which in my mind says, “if you stay here, Rifle wants a tip.” Visitors and potential businesses can tell if there is a welcome mat out for them or they are an interruption in the daily routine. Usually you have to give and down the road you receive. I’m in the balcony, cheering Rifle on.

Bob Cross

Fort Worth, Texas

Regarding the increased Rifle sales tax

If everyone purchasing items in Rifle pays the city sales tax, then only services which are used by everyone should be on the budget.

My idea of city obligations are water/sewage, waste pick up, streets and sidewalks and maintenance, snow removal, police protection, community TV, maybe three parks for a population of 9,000, an animal control shelter.

I insist upon less taxes. Governments must never compete with private businesses.

I urge Rifle voters to vote no on ballot question D. Of those forced to pay the increased sales tax, not everyone will be able to afford the annual membership fees.

Marilyn Oden


Vote against stealing for rec center

This is a difficult and important issue to all members of the Rifle community. The proposal shows a construction cost of around $21 million and the total cost, after interest, could exceed $40 million. The city of Rifle’s reserve fund has dropped by 40 percent since 2009, and the rec center will add at least $200,000 of operating expenses that will not be covered by the proposed sales tax increase.

Supporters of the rec center contend that 0.74 of a penny is not a big deal, and that the benefit to the citizens of Rifle and surrounding communities outweighs the cost. They say the health of everyone around would improve, and that tourists and other highway travelers would come to Rifle just to go to our rec center. The truth is much less dramatic.

Based on the usage rate of another local rec center, the Rifle center could expect about 15 percent of its citizens to use it on a regular basis. Tourist attendance figures at other rec centers in the area are almost nonexistent.

This rec center will take money out of our local economy through taxes and fees. Up to $40 million over 30 years to pay back the loan and interest. Citizens and shoppers will be giving money to the government instead of using it in a private business. It’s immoral to grow the debt and the size of the city budget to appease a few.

Government-operated businesses, like this rec center, and the associated taxes compete with the private sector. This tax initiative is proposed aggression against the people of Rifle and it should not be tolerated. A tax that benefits so few is theft by government. If you are against stealing from Rifle’s taxpayers, you will vote no on ballot question D.

Dylan Lewis


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