A case of bad management
October 29, 2002
Voters should realize that Referendum 1A is not so much about the individual recipients of the Health and Human Services and nonprofits, but rather the poor fiscal management during the “good years,” and eliminating four well-paying jobs at Health and Human Services … totaling $250,000 ?a quarter of a million dollars (Aspen Times, Oct. 19).
It is also about overturning, or De-Brucing Article X, Section 20, of the Colorado Constitution (the Tabor Act), overturning Article 9 of the Pitkin County Home Rule Charter, and overturning “any other law” as stated in Referendum 1A, and keeping taxes already collected, which, by law (TABOR), have to be returned to the taxpayer.
All of this for a period of five years. It is also negating the August 13, 2002, vote by which voters soundly, by approximately 70 percent, voted to keep the Home Rule Charter intact and defeated a tax increase.
As Su Lum so aptly stated in her column of Oct. 2, in The Aspen Times, “This is not to say I don’t think we’re being blackmailed into approving this question ? we are. And it is not to say that the budget cuts could not have been made by cutting dead wood in the bureaucracy ? they could be.” She also refers to taxes “already collected … and held in escrow ? the old ‘we already have it, now can we keep it?’ ploy.”
At Squirm Night, Monday Oct. 21, Jeffrey Evans noted that “open space and transportation funds contain millions of dollars that might be better used for more pressing county needs.” “I couldn’t agree with you more,” said Commissioner Shellie Roy. Then why wasn’t this question put on the ballot rather than than 1A to raise taxes?
Mr. Evans was also correct in his statement that “I imagine that no one would like to be characterized as kicking the walkers out from under the elderly. There’s no debate if these services should be funded, just how to do it best.” And that “the government should get out of the business of giving taxpayer dollars to nonprofits.”
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Commissioner Shellie Roy said that during the budget review process she had tried to find a different “hostage” than Health and Human Services programs. She had suggested a tax increase to keep funding the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, but was talked out of it by an imposing Sheriff Bob Braudis … who stood tall and told her “it would be totally inappropriate.” So she backed down.
She also said “it took years of not being willing to face the tax issue squarely … we should have bit the bullet several years ago and did what Jeffrey suggested … no one understood ?til our world fell apart. It just hit us earlier than other places.” This is our BOCC and county management?
If you look over the FAB funding lists given to BOCC for the Sept. 3, 2002, work session dated Aug. 29, the fifth item lists “services at risk if it doesn’t pass?” (I assume this refers to Referendum 1A): $57,000, Animal Safety; $4,800 plus vehicle; $3,000 BOCC caucus support; $108,814 Community Relations/Health and Human Services Director; $40,000, Community Relations staff and program; $61,000, Contract Manager for Health and Human Services and nonprofit grants; $43,821, Senior activities Programs (nutrition, transit, information, referral, and assistance retained; $125,776, existing Health and Human Services grants except Community Health and Aspen Counseling; $200,000, increase Health and Human Services grants to offset state grant reductions (see attached memo from Nan Sundeen); $80,950, grants to non-Health and Human Services nonprofits.
Surely some of these could be reassessed and adjusted to keep the senior activities program!
Then there is $37,776 for Weeds Manager; $45,000 for Nordic Trails (only one-third of budget); $137,400 for Owl Creek Road paving (per year, five years, $687,000); $20,000 for Free Dump Day; and $6,000 for wind power purchase.
I also believe that the residents, including second-home owners, support all of the charities and nonprofits more than adequately, and that the $10,000 allocated to Catholic Charities is not the business of the BOCC to fund with tax money.
If the “press” would follow and report more of the fund-raising functions in Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Valley for charities and nonprofits and give them more positive coverage, the BOCC would be able to concentrate on its business and leave charities and nonprofits to the very giving and generous members of the community to support.
Citizens, pay attention and vote reality! A no vote on 1A refunds “your already collected taxes “for 2002. A no vote on 1A will prevent de-Brucing and overturning TABOR of the State Constitution.
It will retain Article 9 of the Pitkin County Home Rule Charter, which preserves our low taxes, and will force the BOCC and county manager to do what they are fiscally supposed to do and stay out of funding charities and nonprofits with taxpayer money.