Printed letters, July 24, 2013
I’ve been a friend and supporter of Janet Rowland for many years, but I must disagree with her opinion piece defending Mesa County for abandoning its obligations to the Orchard Mesa pool.
Rowland is dead wrong. She doesn’t know the history of the pool, and she’s unfamiliar with double taxation.
When Mesa County asked voters to increase the sales tax in 1981, one of its campaign promises was to build a recreation facility on Orchard Mesa. But after Black Sunday in 1982, when sales- tax revenue dropped dramatically, Mesa County pleaded with the city to build its new indoor pool on Orchard Mesa.
The county wanted to partner with the project, because officials reasoned, half of a pool would “fulfill” their obligation to Orchard Mesa. The city agreed to the partnership.
Obviously, had the city chosen the location the pool would have been more centrally located and inside city limits.
Blaming the county staff from 30 years ago, as Rowland did, is disingenuous. The commissioners, with full and clear intent, made the decision.
Double taxation is a concept people don’t talk about these days, but something I brought up frequently when I served on the City Council.
Sometimes people, particularly those in Mesa County government, view the city as a separate universe. But city residents are also county residents. They pay all the same county taxes everyone else does, plus city taxes.
So, when someone suggests the cost of something be split between the city and the county, city residents pay twice — first with their city taxes and second with their county taxes.
Rowland’s example of the transit system is perfect. The city pays tax revenue to the county for the service, but gets nothing unique in return. Is the service Grand Valley Transit provides city residents any different than that provided everyone else? Not a bit. Why should a city (including Fruita or Palisade) pay extra for a service that non-city residents get from the county? It’s double taxation, and it’s wrong.
Mesa County has already badly damaged its credibility with its TABOR illegalities and other creative bookkeeping. But after the county has thumbed its nose at an entire neighborhood (Orchard Mesa) and a clear contractual obligation with the city, what entity (city, state, federal or even private business) will ever trust Mesa County’s signature on a future contract?
Mesa County is just wrong on this issue, and it should be embarrassed.
Both city, county officials deserve citizens’ support
Thanks to Janet Rowland for her column in Sunday’s Sentinel. She put into perspective the roles and responsibilities of county government and its cooperative role with city government.
Perhaps we can now allow both types of government to proceed with the roles they were elected to do in running the county and city in this — the best — place to live. We need to stop carping on how they are managing us.
I feel they are doing a great job. They have difficult decisions to make and we need to provide our support.
Bennet, Tipton deserve thanks for protecting Hermosa Creek
I want to thank Sen. Bennet and Rep. Tipton for their support for protecting the Hermosa Creek watershed near Durango. A bipartisan bill has been put together to protect some backcountry areas for hunters, anglers and hikers while ensuring that ranching, mountain biking, ATVing and other means of public use are also protected.
This kind of collaborative approach is a model for all of Colorado and the West. If Congress acts on this bill, it will protect our outdoor heritage and ensure we can balance energy development with conservation for the good of our sporting traditions, recreation economy and future generations.
Kudos to Bennet and Tipton.