Vote for ’em all on Tuesday
October 30, 2007
The incessant chatter about the 2008 presidential election seems to have drowned it out, but there is a city election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and The Aspen Times supports each measure on the ballot.We’ve already endorsed the proposal for Instant Runoff Voting and won’t reiterate our reasons today. But we’re also supporting a proposal for a new hydroelectric power station on Castle Creek, a tax increase for transit and pedestrian uses, and a new property tax for stormwater management.We’ll take the measures one by one: • First, the city of Aspen wants to take on $5.5 million of debt in order to build a new hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek. The general obligation bonds will be paid off with revenues from the city’s electric utility; rates are expected to rise, but not unreasonably, considering that the plant will generate enough clean, renewable power to supply more than 600 homes. As a result, some 5,167 tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be removed from the atmosphere.The city already holds senior water rights on Castle Creek, and this puts them to worthy, long-term use. City officials will need a piece of open space to accomplish this plan, but the so-called open space is nothing more than a parking lot below the Castle Creek bridge, which can be replaced with a more useful piece of trail right of way or true open space. This is a smart move for Aspen’s future. • Second, the city proposes a combination sales tax and construction use tax to support in-town bus service and unspecified “pedestrian amenities.” This is a necessity for anyone who believes Aspen’s free in-town shuttles are an important part of local life; the system, which benefits locals and tourists alike, needs a revenue source. The 0.15-cent sales tax would replace an existing 0.25-cent sales tax that now funds the Rio Grande parking garage; the garage would operate on newly increased parking fees.At first we wondered about a tax on imported construction materials to finance public transportation but, after giving it some thought, we buy the idea that the construction industry bears a share of the responsibility for solving Aspen’s traffic woes. • Third, the city wants a new property tax to support a stormwater management program that should help clean up the Roaring Fork River. The levy will generate roughly $12 million over 15 years, and the money will be spent on a stormwater system to keep some 1,426 tons of sediment out of the river. This is good for fish and good for people, and it will only cost about $120 per year for a West End homeowner and $12 to $24 for someone in affordable housing.Please vote YES on 2A (taxes for public transit), 2B (stormwater management), and 2C and 2D (hydroelectric plant).