Basalt vote cannot be discounted
Councilman Bernie Grauer graciously took the time to respond to my letter to the editor with his reasoning behind the town of Basalt’s examination of purchase of the Pan and Fork property it doesn’t already own using debt (“Explaining Basalt’s pending purchase,” Sept. 25, The Aspen Times).
The question arises because we had a vote in November on whether the town should increase its debt to purchase the property. The voters said “no,” and I have therefore alleged that town Council is not following the will of the voters.
Mr. Grauer offers essentially two reasons why the town is justified in using debt to purchase the property in spite of the vote. First, he says that the debt mechanism the town is examining is different than what the voters voted on and now lacks a tax increase. Second, he alleges that the vote was close, implying that one thus is more justified in ignoring it.
These arguments exemplify just how out of touch our council is with the will of the people. The average voter isn’t concerned with debt mechanism; they are concerned with how the new debt will affect the town’s ability to deliver the government services they are entrusted with. Council owes a clear and convincing explanation of how this debt will affect dollars already allocated to plowing roads, cleaning sidewalks, maintaining parks, policing neighborhoods, after school kid’s programs, employee housing, etc.
Mr. Grauer’s second point on the closeness of the vote isn’t worthy of discussion; every citizen is smart enough to understand that elections count, regardless of margin of victory and semantical after-the-fact explanations.
The council owes the citizens clear answers on other tough questions before it moves forward with new debt without voter input. Why should the citizens entrust you with becoming a market actor, with their dollars, when you collectively have little to no experience in the real estate development business? You must clearly and emphatically declare your intentions on whether you intend to downzone the property?
How does council square its desire to make the parcel nearly all park with the Urban Growth Boundary policy, and the “Our Town” vote?