George Newman: Guest opinion | AspenTimes.com

George Newman: Guest opinion

George Newman
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

The Healthy Community Fund is a dedicated property tax that provides a stable source of critical funding to local health and human services and community nonprofit agencies working to keep citizens independent, healthy and safe.

This fund sunsets in December 2012 and as the need in our community continues to increase, the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners has authorized a ballot issue to continue this property tax starting in 2013 for six years.

We are asking the voters to approve a marginal increase of the fund by $446,000 to raise the current level of funding from $1,480,000 to $1,944,000. This equates to an additional property tax of only $1.31 per $100,000 assessed property value.

For the past nine years, the Healthy Community Fund has provided millions of dollars to promote the social, emotional, physical and economic well-being of our children, families and seniors.

It is estimated that each year the fund assists agencies that reach more than 10,000 people throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. A volunteer grant-review committee evaluates all grant requests based on “grant criteria,” and their recommendations are then approved by the BOCC.

Last year the fund contributed $1,561,368 to 61 organizations, but for the first time had to utilize some of its reserves to do so. Sixty-three percent of those dollars went to health and human service agencies whose programs support family and youth issues, mental health, substance abuse and legal services. Twenty-four percent went to programs that support the well-being of our senior citizens, and 13 percent went to community nonprofits that address community problems and enhance our quality of life from cultural, recreational and educational programs to natural/environmental concerns.

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As funding from federal and state agencies faces cutbacks, our priority these next several years will be to support those agencies that provide basic health and human needs. The Healthy Community Fund supplements fundraising efforts by these community nonprofits, providing approximately 6 percent of their total funding. These critical dollars go directly toward:

• Protective and supportive services for children;

• connecting at-risk youth to community programs and activities to help them succeed and keep them safe;

• assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault;

• aiding for the terminally ill and their families;

• mental health and substance abuse counseling and preventative services;

• a variety of physical, social, and educational activities for Seniors, including support for those who need one-on-one help to deal with the challenges of everyday life;

• preventative health services for low-income citizens (immunizations and teen pregnancy counseling) to avoid higher costs later;

• working with developmentally disabled citizens and their families to enhance their ability to live independent lives;

• programs that protect the quality of our natural resources

Where else can we as individuals contribute so little to help so many? Please vote yes on Referendum 1A to continue to support the health and well-being of our citizens.

Special note: This is a mail-in ballot only!

If you have not voted in the last general election or you have a change of address, please update your current address by going on line to http://www.pitkinvotes.org or by calling the clerk’s office at (970) 429-2713. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day (not simply postmarked) in order to be counted.

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