Summit County commissioner Q&As: Kevin Mastin
Ryan Summerlin October 16, 2012
It’s clear the composition of the BOCC does not accurately reflect the makeup of our diverse county. I would bring some independence and balanced representation for segments of our community who are not currently heard, including small business owners, builders, rural inhabitants and all trail users. My experience as a business owner, community leader (past president of Summit Chamber and Summit Elks Lodge) and coach (Summit High track and cross-country) enables me to represent a broader range of Summit County voters.
I would ensure that the county serves the needs of all citizens fairly and reasonably. Maintenance of Heeney Road should not always be the lowest priority.Builders should not face obstruction in the planning process such as unnecessary studies and fees that escalate costs and delay constructed properties from the tax rolls.Many trail users have seen their terrain threatened and limited over the past years. I believe there is room out there for all of us. I am against current trail closure initiatives which actually preclude trail management. Our natural beauty is our economic engine: shutting off access to the forest, shuts off the economy. We can simultaneously protect and manage our forests.
Our budget needs the fiscal responsibility of someone who has balanced his own company’s budget for 15 years. Two examples:1.) The landfill/recycling operation is losing thousands of dollars a month; the existing recycling shortfall is $350,000. A committee formed to address this shortfall met for six months with a focus on the expansion of services and only last month began addressing the deficit. The BOCC should have taken an aggressive lead to stop this money drain.2.) The new library, a collaboration with the town of Breckenridge, sounds like a great deal – for the town of Breckenridge. They have gained a financial partner for the renovation of a town-owned asset, and the county is left with a $2.7 million price tag for improvements on a building that it will not own – essentially a “tenant finish.” In light of the forecast 5 percent drop in valuations, a responsible approach should be, “Instead of spending several hundred thousand more than budgeted, how can we build a library and spend 5 percent less?” The county outgrew the existing South Branch Library in a very short time. However, since the county owns that building, it can use it to house the district attorney’s office. If the county outgrows the CMC space in an equally short time, what does it have to show for it? This was not a fiscally responsible decision.As far as reinvigorating the county’s economy, our economic base needs diversification. We all experienced the tenuous situation of this past winter, just one year after record snowfall. I would establish a countywide economic development council (as most of the towns already have, and use to great effect) a volunteer commission of the county’s best business minds to capitalize on and create economic opportunities. This will generate sales tax revenue to offset our dependence on property taxes.
The county has responded adequately to the pine beetle devastation, a phenomenon of nature that will, to some extent, just have to run its course. Since the majority of the problems are on national forest land, I feel the commissioners should have withheld support of either Hidden Gems or Mark Udall’s wilderness plan. I don’t feel the urban/wildland interfaces have been fully addressed. Access and the use of motorized equipment are essential to meeting this challenge. The safety of our neighborhoods must take priority over federal recreational decisions.