Summit Daily letters: ColoradoCare, Breckenridge parking and government spending
October 7, 2016
ColoradoCare is conjecture, hope and hyperbole
What concerns me the most about Amendment 69 is that much of the positive things said ColoradoCare are not in the amendment. So first and foremost, I think you should encourage your readers to read the amendment and test all the comments against what is actually written. All the rest is at best conjecture, hope and hyperbole. I think quoting the proponents of Colorado, without distinguishing between what is in the amendment and what is hoped for does a disservice to your readers.
I have lots of questions, but I think it is critical to urge everyone to read the actual amendment and to distinguish between what the amendment says and what the proponents say it will accomplish. The amendment is clear. There is no real enforceable plan, though. Basically, the proponents are saying, turn over $75 billion to 15 unelected political appointees with no mandated business or medical experience to devise a program which we hope will accomplish all we want it to.
There may a system that works, but before we commit $75 billion to something, effectively tripling the state income tax, we should have a concrete plan or we risk a very expensive failure.
Mary Ellen Burns
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Missing from the discussion
Both my wife and I found the candidate forum in Breckenridge on Wednesday to be very informative and helped us make decisions on which way to vote next month. We were also very impressed with your ability to keep the candidates on schedule; not an easy task.
With all the discussion, albeit important discussion, on low-income housing, what never seems to get said is that no one seems to bring up the idea of stopping all of the new building of higher priced condos and houses. This excessive expansion of the local population is what creates the need for more businesses, hence greater need for workers, etc. We have lived in areas prior to relocating to Breckenridge, where we witnessed this type of local expansion that eventually ruined the quiet peacefulness that brought us there in the first place.
Also missing from discussion last night was the parking problem. A very possible solution for this is to use the north end of town for both employee and visitor parking lots, which would greatly reduce the large number of vehicles clogging the streets downtown. We would need to add more trolleys, but they can be made fun and helpful with friendly drivers, and store owners could provide coupons for riders to promote use, etc.
The flawed logic of pre-Recession benchmarking
I attended the election forum held at CMC on Oct. 5 and am thankful to the sponsors, including the Summit Daily, for arranging this very informative event. But I was dismayed at the almost total disregard for the taxpayers of Summit County. By "taxpayer" I'm referring to property owners, tenants (landlords will pass on property tax increases to their tenants as rent increases), and, of course, residents and visitors who pay sales taxes when they buy goods and services. These people include hard working tenants as well as people who have saved all their lives to buy a house and live here, but have limited incomes.
For the record, I'm politically an independent; this letter does not endorse the supporters for any party's positions. I salute the few speakers, irrespective of party affiliation, who made passing reference to advocating efficient and effective government that respects budgets.
I have three observations about the presentations Wednesday evening. First, growth in the demand for government services does not justify increasing property tax or sales tax rates. Increases in the number of children in school, for example, reflects an increased number of households, occupying an increased number of houses, and therefore paying collectively more property taxes. Schools receive more revenue when the number of children increases.
Second, employing tax revenue levels from 2008 as the reference or "anchor" point is seriously flawed. From the early 1980s through the present, the federal government has used housing as a means for stimulating our economy out of recession. This behavior won't change any time soon, but it causes housing-market bubbles and subsequent collapses. For a local government agency to argue that its peak tax revenue stream during the 2008 bubble is the expected "norm," and anything less must be compensated by raising tax rates, builds in a ratchet effect. Tax rates will climb unremittingly as governments continue to seek higher tax rates in "low" years, and refuse to reduce rates in bubble years, until taxpayers rebel.
Competent budgeting would recognize these swings in revenues for each economic cycle and should reference "average" revenue years. Officials could then employ surges in revenue in some years to fund long-term facility repairs and to improve operations so that they are more efficient and resilient when the next revenue decline occurs. To demand that taxpayers restore government funding via tax increases whenever revenues drop, at the same time that taxpayers are suffering from losses of wealth, jobs, and employment income, demonstrates a total disregard for their well being.
Third, property owners will experience significantly higher property tax bills in 2017 because their property values will be re-assessed at much higher levels. The speakers failed to acknowledge the increases in their revenues already projected for future years, and the proposed tax increases they argued for, if approved, will drive tax bills and their revenues even higher.
When will the taxpayers of Summit County wake up to what's happening?
Incumbent commissioners stuck in big-government mindset
I attended the candidate forum sponsored and moderated by the Summit Daily News at CMC's Breckenridge campus. I was particularly interested in our candidates for county commissioner since they have the most influence locally.
It was disappointing to hear both incumbents, as well as another major party challenger, stating the need for more and more government programs. A case in point was their discussion of the need for affordable housing and how expensive it is to live here. Nowhere in their discussion was any comment made about lowering regulations or cutting government fees to ease the burden and make it more efficient and less costly to build in Summit County. A friend of mine had to put up $36,000 in permit fees before he was even able to start building his home. From what I heard from these major party candidates, they were all interested in increasing taxes and fees on residents to pay so others could live here. Not one word about cutting government costs was uttered by any of them.
The only commissioner candidates daring to mention cutting the size and cost of government to ease the burden of those wanting to build affordable housing were the two independent, unaffiliated candidates: Jonathon Lerner and Garry Horine.
Three Democrats, including the two incumbents up for re-election, have been running the Summit County Commission for quite some time now, despite Democrats comprising only a third of Summit County's population, and I've been hearing their laments about the problems in Summit County since Day One of their terms. They haven't gotten them fixed despite having been elected to do so, some for more than one term. It is time for some new blood and Mr. Lerner and Mr. Horine are willing to attack the prime source of the problem – way too much government. They both deserve our votes, they certainly will get mine!
Terry W. Donze
Skateboarding not for the sheltered
Re: Scott Smith's Oct. 4 letter "Being polite at the skatepark."
Skateboarding is not polite; have you ever watched a professional skate video or read a skate zine? Skateboarding is pain and self-expression. Although it has become very commercialized, at its core it is radical.
Being a young skater surrounded by older, more experienced skaters can be intimidating. This is a part of how you learn. When you almost get run over, you learn to look around and understand the flow of the park. You learn to watch people's eyes and body language to see where they're going. You also learn how to react quickly on your skateboard and change directions if needed. The more you learn, the more you'll have fun and get respect.
As for the cursing, skateboarding is a very individualized activity. Most people who skate well are extremely passionate and sometimes dealing with internal battles. Pain is part of the joy of skating. With pain and passion comes some foul language.
This world becomes more complicated every day. Skateboarding will not make your children bad people, it will teach them respect and perseverance. If you want your children to be sheltered, it may be tough. You could sign them up for soccer.
Vail should make the case for a garage, not bash the council
Another letter to the editor, another flyer in my mailbox. Vail Resorts seems desperate to convince us that the Breckenridge Town Council is guilty of fraud. Interestingly, there's no discussion of the merits of a parking structure on F-Lot, only a bashing of the council.
Perhaps Vail realizes that there is a limited time frame before everyone realizes how bad the idea of a parking structure on F-Lot really is, as I explained in my own July 19 column in the Summit Daily News and which more recent letters have elaborated upon.
Before everyone realizes how much such a structure benefits the ski area and The Village, which doesn't have enough of its own parking, but just creates more traffic headaches for the town.
Before everyone remembers that they chose Breckenridge because it was not Vail, not in spite of it.
My time in Breckenridge is coming to an end as I prioritize my bucket list. But I hope that my children and grandchildren have a Central Park in the middle of town where they can enjoy the town their parents/grandparents called home for 40+ years instead of a 21st century version of the old rock piles that were bulldozed to create F-Lot.
And I actually hope that Vail Resorts is still here because when it focuses on skiing, Vail Resorts does a pretty good job compared to the myriad of other owners we've suffered through. Hopefully they can learn to appreciate their ride on the back of a very special town.
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