Printed Letters: May 16, 2017

County should exempt grants from TABOR

I totally agree with Robin Brown’s suggestion in the Sunday editorial page that Mesa County should exempt all state grants from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

I would also suggest that the county commissioners and administrators go one step further and research the other sources of income that exist in the county budget that are not local tax generated but are part of doing daily business.

For example, the county operates an excellent community corrections program, putting inmates to work and charging them for part of their room and board and other treatment services. Inmates also pay restitution to their victims. Our criminal justice system generates several revenues that I feel should be exempted from TABOR such as cost of prosecution fees, victims compensation and victim assistance and law enforcement surcharges that are paid by offenders to the County. These sources of income should not be counted against our TABOR limit.

A review of funding sources in other county departments may also reveal similar sources of income that may be generated from clients or other sources that may be appropriate for exemption. While the total fiscal impact may only be in the hundreds of thousands instead of millions of dollars, such exemptions will allow Mesa County to address pertinent needs of our citizens.

JOE HIGGINS
Grand Junction

Drainage District’s assessment of fees sets a bad precedent

My family has lived in the Grand Valley and farmed this land for more than 50 years. I would like to voice my opinion about the Grand Valley Drainage District “fees” which have been recently assessed on the residents of this community.

Last year I received a bill from GVDD for $72. I paid the amount, though I did not agree with it. I felt that I had to comply because I did not want it to be sent to collections.

This year they increased my bill to $270. This seems very questionable, as nothing has changed on my property in that time. I am now 78 years old and on a very limited income. While I still have my farm, the money made from the lease payment barely covers taxes, insurance, and irrigation water expenses. As costs continue to rise all around me, my income does not. My farm drainage and tail water does not even use the ditches managed by the Drainage District that I am being charged for. In my frustration I dug out my tax records going back to 2003 through 2016 and totaled up all of the property taxes that were allotted to GVDD during that time. The total for that period was $1,033.70. The Drainage District has been able to manage on those allotted property tax dollars for all these years. As I understand it, the more homes and businesses that are built in the valley, the more taxes that are received by the Drainage District, providing more revenue to manage drainage for that growth.

Grand Valley Drainage District is assessing a “fee” in order to raise more money. I question, why have the increasing funds from a growing tax base not generated enough money to cover these needs? If there is a real need and not just poor leadership or mismanagement, then the funds should be asked for in the form of a tax and not demanded in the form of a “fee.”

Hypothetically, any organization could decide that even though it could operate within its tax-funded budget, it may not want to.

I am not saying that this is the case with the Drainage District, but granting this type of authority to any organization without checks and balances puts us in a precarious position by establishing a precedent for all organizations.

If the district truly can no longer accomplish the job it was organized to do because of a lack of appropriate funding, then let them spell out the justification for additional funds, call it a tax, and approach the people in a legitimate manner to gain a vote of approval. Allowing for “fees"opens the door for problems and corruption.  This is a precedent we cannot afford.

KATHLEEN ARNETT
Clifton

AHCA fails to provide cheaper options or better coverage

In the initial paragraph of Joan Kelsey’s letter to The Daily Sentinel published May 14, the writer states categorically that the ACHA does not eliminate pre-existing conditions. I do hope Scott Tipton reads the entire ACHA. If he or you (the reader of this letter) would read the ACHA you would find Kelsey’s quote, only without the words “health insurance” and you would discover waivers. With the ACHA, each state may request waivers that would allow health insurance carriers to: avoid coverage for essential health benefits, reinstitute annual and life-time maximums, eliminate mental illness and maternity coverage, and eliminate pre-existing conditions. Always read the fine print.

The president promised less expensive insurance with more choice and better coverage. He and House leadership have, so far, failed.

JOHN LALLEMENT
Grand Junction


COMMENTS

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Mr. Higgins, merely points out what is wrong with the Constitutional Amendment referred to as Tabor and is why voters are constantly asked to vote on making exceptions to almost everything;  i.e. “Make an exception here, then there, etc.”  What that then leads to is little more than a “sieve”, through which the “money” can easily go right through, for whatever project one “feels” one wants.

This country and this State, gave the “power of the purse” to legislators and legislatures, and through them to the people.  We have to return to that model and not bypass it.  If the legislatures go out of control, the people then have not only the right, but the obligation to replace the legislators who are responsible for it.

What is not only unfortunate, but actually tragic, is that far too many (legislators and citizens) cannot think beyond their personal and/or parochial needs.  That then sets up the “pork” paradigm, where a legislator and the citizens themselves, end up doing nothing more than voting for their share of the pork.  The citizens because they want that “pork” and legislators who are all too willing to go along, then come back at election time claiming “See, I voted for the pork you wanted, now re-elect me and I will get you even more.”  Those citizens who think in that manner are not only not only not responsible individuals, but are actually irresponsible.  They don’t even realize that they are being “bribed”, if not with their own money, then with someone else’s.

Ms. Arnett is not wrong. But, she needs to consider something else as well.  She needs to consider what is really happening when someone advocates, or votes for, something which is presented as “free”, such as what we recently saw the editor of this newspaper advocate, a “Tax Free Colorado”.  There is no such thing.  What the editor was advocating is to let some interest go “tax free”.  Well, if someone does not pay for it (or pay his/her share of taxes) then someone else has to make up the difference, following the basic rule that “nothing is free, and has to be paid for”.

Some of us, when some public official proposes a project and/or policy, what we ask are the following questions.

Do the numbers make any sense, and for whom?  What we then do is go to those public officials and ask them to explain, which all too frequently they either cannot, or will not, at least for the general taxpaying public.  What some of us have found is that they either are unable, or unwilling to do so;  i.e. “I don’t have to explain anything to you, you peasant”.

We then will ask whether whatever project (unless absolutely essential) is what is the “payback” period to the taxpayer.  That is referred to as “return on investment”.  That they will not answer either, many of them because they have not really thought about it.  That is why we have so many projects which, although sold as “the cat’s meow”, end up being nothing but long-term drains on tax dollars.  So, even if it has failed, and is still failing, they keep putting in more and more tax dollars, something which goes against what it is some of us were taught.  “When something is not working, stop doing it.”  Many don’t, because of one of two reasons.  The first is that “ego” is involved, and the second that for those who get the benefits (even if they are being subsidized) it is that proverbial “greatest thing since sliced bread”.

Yes, Ms. Arnett, do keep questioning, but the thing to do is to make certain that you do what some of us do, we first make certain that we haven’t been sold a “bill of goods” along the way, and that we have not actually contributed to the creation of our own problem(s).

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