Su Lum: Taxes and trolleys
October 1, 2002
No one could have been more astonished than I was that the County Commissioners came up with a tax-increase ballot question that I could actually support!
The ballot question asks us to approve extending the existing mill levy (in effect, a tax increase) for the next five years, with the funds earmarked for and dedicated to health and human services and nonprofit organizations.
I’m voting YES.
This is not to say I don’t think we’re being blackmailed into approving this question ? we are. And it is not to say that the budget cuts could have been made by cutting out dead wood in the bureaucracy ? they could be.
And it would be more acceptable if it were for one, two or three years rather than five, but five is better than forever. And while I hate to endorse a tax that has already been collected (we paid it last year) and is being held in escrow awaiting approval ? the old, “We already have it, now can we keep it?” ploy, the bottom line here is that, as sure as sure can be, the budgets for social services will be slashed to the bone, probably eliminated entirely, if we don’t give the county more money, and this is a compromise that will take that issue off the table.
Another plus is that the social services fund will not exceed $800,000 so we will not be socked for more when our assessments go up in January.
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A third plus is that this is the only county tax question we will be asked. Originally, we were to be asked to approve forever the mill levy they had already kept and, in addition, to approve another question that would raise the mill levy higher yet. Both were guaranteed “No” votes. This deserves a “Yes” vote.
I don’t think we want to cut social services, and this question will remove that ongoing threat for five years.
If we don’t vote for this tax, the senior and youth programs, the hospice program, the health and mental health organizations ? all the things we really care about ? will suffer. This way, $800,000 per year will be set aside for those beneficiaries ? and God bless, we wouldn’t deny them that.
What we don’t want to see is more money being poured into the great tar pit of the county budget, and every time the level gets low to be threatened with cuts to social services.
Is this airtight? I doubt it. But it will put a lid on it for now.
Then there are the %$#@!* trolleys that won’t die. I have never supported the trolleys because of the overhead wires and the tracks. Now the overhead wires have disappeared, and when I asked Jon Busch, “what about the TRACKS?” he referred me to their Web site, aspentrolley.com.
I visited the Web site, expecting to find an alternative to tracks, but the tracks are there (so are the overhead wires which you are asked to ignore), along with reassuring statements that it would only take three weeks to install them. Raise your hand if you believe that.
There being no show of hands, I think it behooves the trolley proponents to start talking tracks.
[Su Lum is a longtime local who dreads delving into the 14 pages of 6-point type on the state questions coming up on the November ballot. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.]
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