No, no, no and no | AspenTimes.com

No, no, no and no

Dear Editor:

Sure as the sun rises each morning, in every election cycle, Aspen residents are beseeched to vote “yes” on new tax increases requested by city and county authorities seeking to bridge budget deficits, initiate new capital projects or both. This Nov. 6 is no different.

The most notorious recidivist is the Aspen School District, which, having exhausted all possibilities of further burdening disenfranchised second-home owners, now targets locals by seeking an increase in the most regressive of all taxes, the sales tax. A tax that will disproportionally hit the city’s middle- and lower-income wage earners the hardest. And one that will hand over to an unaccountable board the power to allocate its proceeds.

Once more, the district’s actions demonstrate a failure in Economics 101. While others in the community must match income and expenditures, the school’s administrators leverage the third rail of local politics, “children and schools,” to get out from under their fiduciary obligation to exercise prudent fiscal discipline by balancing their budgets.

If the sales tax increase fails, as it should, the addition of another two students to every class will not spell the end of Western civilization as we know it!

Not to be outdone, the Pitkin County Library District seeks $10 million in new taxes on top of a $5 million endowment to expand facilities and add staff. As with the generals who are at the ready to fight the last war, this bricks-and-mortar initiative, with attendant bureaucracy, will position the library to meet the twentieth century needs of those same “third rail children!”

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Just as buggy-whip manufacturers minimized the horseless carriage to their detriment, the Aspen edifice complex (see big new hospital, big new art museum, big new firehouse and big new airport terminal) has blinded officials to the full impact of eBooks, tablets, computers, smart phones and the Internet, etc., on the actual physical and staff requirements for the twenty first century library.

The half million dollars spent for a the study of an expanded library would have been better used in planning and implementing a more efficient and effective means of delivering library services via new electronic options.

Finally, the big new hydro project should be scrapped altogether before additional overruns add to the spiraling taxpayer costs that far outweigh any dubious benefits to the community. This is another of those “putting lipstick on a pig” initiatives, like the plastic-bag ban, that makes some people feel “green” while not significantly improving the environment.

Rather than attack Aspen’s big polluter, the S-curve gas guzzling and carbon-dioxide emitter, officials take the easier route by thinking small.

It’s time for Aspen’s voters to send a message to elected and appointed officials by voting “no” on each of these proposals. Let’s demand that they exercise fiscal discipline over matters that have been entrusted to them.

Michael Levine

Aspen

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