Soap Box

Get with the times – yes on 2A
11/01/2018

To the editor,

The notion that the proposed city sales tax increase of a half-cent and the accompanying 5.4 mill levy increase is going to fleece the citizens of Durango is patently absurd. Taxes in Colorado and Durango are extremely low; and even with these increases they’ll still be extremely low.

Does anyone really believe that an extra nickel is going to send everyone to Farmington to buy shoes or groceries? Does anyone remember that 1 million tourists visit annually and that they love to buy stuff which contributes to our city’s well being?

I want to live in a city where the streets are taken care of, where city employees can work efficiently and with the latest technology, and where arts, cultural and recreation programs are valued and funded. If you want a bare-bones town, please, do yourself a favor and move to Delta or Montrose or Aztec.

So-called “Citizens for Durango’s Future” call to vote no proves true this axiom: “It’s easier to burn a bridge than to build a bridge.” They should call themselves “Citizens Stuck in the Past.”

The city has budgeted no money in 2019 to fix any streets. Roads that aren’t maintained only become dangerous and create ongoing liabilities. That’s unacceptable. Durango has voted for the future by approving great

civic projects: the recreation center, Florida Road, the ice rink, a first-class library, trails and a modern sewage-treatment system. We can do it again.

I’m voting for the future: Yes on 2A.

– Joe Lewandowski, Durango

2A will hurt low-income people
11/01/2018

To the editor,

If you want to make Durango more unaffordable for those on fixed incomes (elderly, disabled) and people making low wages and struggling financially, then vote yes for the proposed city tax increase. If ensuring that all Durangoans can afford to live here for the next few decades is important, reject this excessive and unnecessary tax increase.

The $250-$300 million tax proposal would continue for 25 years. While the council cited the initial property tax increase of $153/year for a $400,000 home, property taxes will increase over 25 years as housing values increase. Increases will be passed on in higher rents and for those on fixed incomes, difficult choices about what to buy. Personal money spent on sales taxes increases as the price of goods increases. While the wealthy can handle these increases, low income folks will struggle. This tax increase is not just about public safety and streets and side walk repair. The council/city manager have numerous capital improvement projects including a new city hall. Ensuring that all people can live in Durango takes priority over the new buildings the city wants to build and supplementing operating expenses, which now includes significant fat. The city’s responsibility to manage within the current revenue stream by reducing expenses if revenues drop before suggesting new taxes is their moral and civic duty.

Citizens have suggested how the city can live within their budget without this excessive new tax but the council has chosen not to listen. Perhaps the next council will.

– Mike Todt, Durango

Aichele balances to the penny
11/01/2018

To the editor,

I urge all voters to re-elect Allison Aichele as La Plata County Treasurer. Allison deserves to keep the job to ensure the continued effective operations of the treasurer’s office. She has the experience and knowledge of all the complex systems and has upgraded and improved the operations of the office producing the best possible results. She has the professional education and high-level financial management experience that her opponent lacks. It would be a huge mistake to change horses midstream given Allison’s strong leadership and quality performance heading the department. She has been unfairly maligned with trivial and outdated charges, and has proven by all financial audits that she has successfully managed this important department. Financial audits are done on the office annually by the county, as well as other entities’ auditors, such as school districts, cities and towns, etc. Under Allison’s leadership, all La Plata County accounts balance to the penny, confirmed by all the auditors. Please join me in voting to re-elect Allison Aichele for La Plata County Treasurer.

– Daniel Morgenstern, Durango

Amendment 74 a lawyers' dream
11/01/2018

To the Editor:

Voters have 13 statewide ballot issues to decide on in the Nov. 6 election. Did you know that the paragraph you see on the ballot is usually not the actual thing you are voting on?

You need to know the actual wording to make a good decision. It’s in the Blue Book that the state mails out, that you should have already gotten.

Case in point is Amendment 74 that requires compensation to any private property owner, if local government regs de-value said property, meaning interfere with profit maximization. This would affect both townies and rural residents. The paragraph on the ballot sounds nice: get the evil government out of our lives and our property rights.

Beware. The actual wording of Am. 74 will have you scratching your head and thinking, “Huh?? What the heck does this mean??” It was created by oil and gas interests so they could do anything anywhere. Of course the wording doesn’t mention oil and gas interests. That could turn off some voters. So the amendment would apply to anything anyone wants to do anywhere.

Imagine the worst possible use that could go in next door, that could destroy your enjoyment of living on your land & sharply de-value your property. Factory hog farm? Toxic waste dump? Rural venue for motorcycle rallies, death metal concerts, dirt bike trails & the like? A strip club? A pot shop? Out of state landowner who could care less about the community impacts? Out of state corporation?

As a constitutional amendment, when glitches or unforeseen consequences arise, it usually takes another statewide vote to fix those. This is a lawyer’s dream. Beware.

– Carole McWilliams, Bayfield

A sheriff who will serve rural folk
11/01/2018

To the editor,

We live on a small farm that is around 45 miles from the Sheriff Office. We seldom see deputies in our area, and it was a far safer feeling when BP paid extra to have deputies patrol. Deputies, in addition to deterring crime, have also been helpful with irrigation water disputes, slowing down the fast gas well traffic on the gravel roads, and occasionally chasing stock off the road & preventing accidents. Our Sheriff’s Department cannot continue to lose so many deputies. All divisive politics aside, it is time for a new Sherriff that will provide new morale and pay more attention to farmers and ranchers in the more rural areas.

– Greg Gummersall, La Plata County