General funds are dangerous
July 5, 2002
Just as families must live on a budget and roll with hard times to live within their budget, so must the county and the city of Aspen. Families do not have a “general fund” to run to for “additional” funds.
The voters have twice rejected a deeper trough of money to feed at when the budget has a shortfall. That is poor planning, and since the last year of Clinton’s office, people have been warned of “tight money.”
Budgets have a firm purpose and so do dedicated taxes. Look at California in the ’50s. One could go all through the public school system, including college, tuition-free.
Grade school and high school kids did not pay for the bus and paper and supplies were furnished. Why? Dedicated taxes. The “general fund” came in, and look at that state today. General funds are a dangerous thing. Especially in a sagging economy.
The property owners of this county saw their tax bills double in 2001. That bill came due in April of 2002. In short, a lot of people faced a terrible burden. (Flash! All property owners are not “rich” as the chat on the street portends.)
A “comp” is a comparison of two or more properties of equal size, amenities, location, landscaping, etc. It is not a comp when a spectacular, unique property such as the Peak House sells. There is no “comp.” It is a one-of-a-kind. So, in short, many people have a “shortfall” and will be cutting a lot from their budgets – some very painful cuts.
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I realize that the shortfall is in sales tax. However, I think everyone at the city and county level must realize that some decisions that have been made in the last few years have made our town very un-user friendly while prices have continued to go up. Sept. 11 is not totally to blame.
Ask the retailer who is looking at the bottom line. Not just year-to-date but, say, the last five years. Look at the number of sales for that long period of time across the board. Then ask “why” is there a shortfall. I am sure if every business was asked that question, in depth, a lot would be learned.
A vote for an increase to a general fund is a vote for irresponsibility. If the county has a worthy project, let them make a case for it before the public, and if the public agrees, a dedicated tax might get passed.