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Will of the electorate

Last week KNCB Moore raised the issue of a heavy increase in county budget and personnel in light of a modest gain in population since 1976. His concerns warrant comment, as I believe we, the voters, have effectively limited county spending over the last 26 years to programs we strongly support.The county General Fund in 1976 was $14 million; today it is $17.5 million. If a 2.5 percent inflation rate were applied to the 1976 figure, inflation would have generated a $9.1 million increase, creating a general fund of $23 million today.I’d like to say, “See, the county is doing a great job,” but that statement would be as misleading as KNCB’s. Fenton, which was passed in 1976 to limit county increases in revenues generated by escalating assessed values of real estate, limited Pitkin County to “no” increase in property tax-generated revenues without voter approval. Recognizing “distrust of government,” the county General Fund remained frozen at the 1976 level (until 1992 when the electorate allowed inflation to increase the fund), but the commissioners generated additional revenues to meet needs by requesting new specific funds to meet demand. Since 1976 there has been an increase in special districts or funds and these districts account for the $48 million total expenditures. Those “new funds” are:- Open Space & Trails: $7,396,163- RFTA: $9,238,157- Airport: $7,158,267 (this money comes from FAA and user fees)- Library: $2,187,952- Translator: $559,756- Landfill: $3,137,600 (generated by tip fees, expenses for recycling)- Ambulance: $430,717Another change generated by Fenton was that, rather than the county providing certain infrastructure services such as roads and water, new subdivisions had to provide their own. Today we have seen a proliferation of “special districts” formed to meet infrastructure needs such as the Buttermilk, Starwood, Brush Creek, Redstone and Holland Hills metro districts.Whether this is efficient government, I will not respond. But what has been created is the will of the electorate.Shellie RoyPitkin County Commissioner


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