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Other People’s Money

To The Editor:

“It is largely other people’s money”, is proudly touted by the proponents of the 1% sales tax increase, alluding to the fact that our “dear” visitors will pay another $1,320.00 each year to our upkeep. “All of the elected-officials and almost all of the candidates in the upcoming election are for this tax increase,” they further state. Should we assume that THEY, therefore, know best and that to think otherwise is simply to be unreasonable or uninformed or both? Hey, it’s other people’s money.

Further to my note a couple weeks ago about “staff running the show”, one has to know that the “wise ones: believe/know this is true because staff told them that this was the only way out of their present mess. Staff, with the blessings and rubber stamping by elected officials of their decisions, has severely over-extended the capabilities of this community to pay for all of the dreams they have proposed, including their own.

Nobody wants to talk about history, everyone wants to talk about the immediate crisis at hand; be it fire, flood, roads, or aging infrastructure. As a famous person once said, “don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” So it happens again. A perfect opportunity, with enough crisis-factor, to make everyone believe that this is a critical situation and there is no other solution. Surely the sky will fall if we don’t get a bigger budget. After all, it’s other people’s money.

Historically, within the first few years of the present millennium, the Town was sitting on 7 million in reserves. Somebody decided that this was a little too much money and began a spending plan that included an extensive trail system, more marketing, expanded government services, the latest and greatest equipment and vehicles, and then the ever increasing staff size to accommodate those services was the proper response. That is without mentioning ever increasing big bucks for top administration. By 2005 this was down to about 4 million and there was no “stop sign” on the spending. Some on the board began to ask about the adequate amount of reserves. It was finally decided that 35% of annual operation and maintenance was a safe number. Each year after that, staff challenged that marker by a percent or two, so that the “rainy day” fund was down to 25% ….. and then the rains actually came, and the fires, and reduced visitor traffic and of course, reduced sales tax revenue.

During that same summer, staff convinced trustees that they should “mortgage the farm” to build the event center NOW. (Of note: Statutory towns, can not incur indebtedness without a vote of the people ….. but participation bonds are OK ???) But to staff, this is it largely other people’s money, and they are guaranteed their pay and position as opposed to the business community who must make do when their revenues are down.

One thing that I have observed is that most all taxing entity budgets always grows and that if they are asked to do with less, they threaten the tax payers with discontinuing your favorite services.

Yes, you can get rid of the elected official that you don’t like or are less frugal than you want, or just wait 8 years for them to be term-limited, but you don’t get a vote on the unelected bureaucracy (Staff) …… and neither do your elected officials except for the Administrator, and the attorney. For staff, they just have two or three new recruits to train every couple of years after each election. Remember, 1) Staff runs the show and, 2) it is largely other people’s money, so if you want to give them another 1% that would be up to you on April Fool’s day.

Richard Homeier



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