Letter: Pitkin GOP’s endorsements for November election | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Pitkin GOP’s endorsements for November election

The Pitkin County Republicans recommend a “no” vote on statewide Amendment 66 on school financing, a “no” vote on Ballot Questions 4C and 4D in the midvalley Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District and a “yes” vote on Ballot Question 2B in the town of Basalt.

Our reasons for these positions follow.

The Pitkin County Republicans support excellence in education. However, we have made the following conclusions about Amendment 66, a nearly $1 billion income tax increase for school financing:

It is poorly linked to improving student outcomes.

It would penalize the Aspen School District and other Colorado school districts by eliminating the cost-of-living factor from the school-based funding formula, with a disproportionate share of state funding allocated to urban school districts.

It is an open-ended tax increase that would increase all Colorado taxpayers’ income taxes immediately (an 8 percent increase for taxpayers with annual incomes less than $75,000 and a 27 percent increase for taxpayers with annual incomes of $75,000 or more).

It would authorize the Legislature to enact further tax increases for school funding without a vote of the electorate.

It would inflict unnecessary pain on Colorado taxpayers during a period of continued economic fragility.

Passage of Amendment 66 would be financially disadvantageous to the Aspen School District. In the past, the Aspen community has supported property tax mill-levy overrides as well as a sales tax increase to attract and retain high-quality educators. If the amendment passes, the Aspen community will need to pay significantly higher property taxes just to maintain current funding levels for Aspen schools. We urge a “no” vote on Amendment 66.

Questions 4C and 4D, applying to voters in the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District, affect Pitkin County residents in the midvalley areas of Old Snowmass, Emma and Basalt. The ballot proposal is for a $25 million bond issue to pay for a new recreational facility in the midvalley along with significantly higher property taxes to build and maintain the new facility. The proposed tax increase would more than quadruple the mill levy in the district, with a major impact on both residential and commercial properties at a time of economic uncertainty. Commercial properties, which are taxed at a rate about 350 percent greater than residential properties, would not be able to withstand yet another blow to their viability in downtown Basalt.

The proposed facility would duplicate existing public recreation centers in Aspen, Snowmass Village, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs as well as private recreation facilities in the midvalley, all within easy reach of residents in the Crown Mountain District. As a matter of fairness and concern for our fellow residents, we believe that whenever higher taxes are proposed, the proponents must demonstrate a compelling need for the funds, particularly in our current economy, when so many people are struggling to stay afloat and meet their existing tax obligations. We do not believe a compelling case exists for the proposed property tax increase in the Crown Mountain District. We urge a “no” vote on Questions 4C and 4D.

The Pitkin County Republicans urge a “yes” vote on Question 2B in the town of Basalt, which includes a portion of Pitkin County. The town is proposing to issue approximately $5 million in bonds to rehabilitate the Roaring Fork River as it passes through the town, without new taxes. Called “Fix the Fork,” this ballot item is key to the redevelopment of downtown Basalt, which has been adversely affected by other development in the midvalley area. According to the town, no tax increase would be necessary to fund debt service on the bond issue, and the town would use other funds available to it to move residents of the mobile-home park adjacent to the river to safer ground. We believe a “yes” vote is warranted on Question 2B.

Frieda Wallison

Chair, Pitkin County Republicans

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