To The Editor:
Just as we were looking forward to the Christmas season and a hopeful return to some normalcy after the flood, we received a pamphlet from the town of Estes Park requesting a sales tax increase. The timing of this request seemed to show a disconnect between those that work to raise taxes and those who are hired to spend taxes.
The pamphlet compared the Estes Park tax rates with Steamboat Springs and Breckinridge. While these two towns are mountain tourist towns, they are hardly a comparison to Estes Park. The fact is, Estes Park is unique in its proximity to the Front Range. Before Safeway re-entered, it was estimated that 70% of money spent by Estes Park residents was being spent in the Front Range. It’s just the way it is. We all go to the “valley”. The comparison is invalid.
My concerns are not just a matter of raising taxes, but more of a concern as to where our tax dollars are being spent. When homes are being foreclosed, I don’t understand why the town is using taxpayer dollars to subsidize housing and has a desire to build more? This would seem a conflict of interest. Why have the sidewalks on Moraine Avenue not been finished as was the plan in Urban Renewal? Why has the run-off from the transfer station not been addressed and taken care of? The town knew it was responsible to have in place a system to contain and filter the water run-off that would be going into the Big Thompson River. If Upper Thompson Sanitation had not addressed the need to reinforce their man-hold, the sewer system in the Moraine Avenue area would have been seriously compromised during the flood. What was the cost to cut down the Blue Spruce trees and cement Bond Park? What was the priority: Bond Park or the run-off that is potentially polluting the Big Thompson and causing destruction to over 100 taxpayer properties? What is the cost of our city government today compared with 15 years ago and what will the cost be in 15 years? Why are we spending $1 million for planning, zoning and code enforcement? Is there any accountability?
These challenges are being faced by many towns, cities, and even states in our country and many have gone and will go bankrupt The sales tax increase will produce $2 million in 10 years. The sale of Lot 4 would give us $1.65 million which would be enough to correct many of the infrastructure problems on the tax increase agenda. This would at least buy us some time as I believe there is a need for an independent study addressing the cost effectiveness of our town’s finances. It would be great if we were all rich, could pay lots of taxes and pay for every improvement we wanted. But that’s not reality. As business people we have learned that to be responsible and accountable we must evaluate everything we do and all the decisions we make. It is the same for the town.
Owner- The Warming House