Soap Box

Invest in our future: yes on 2A

To the editor,

My family has resided in Durango since the early 1930s. Durango has gone through many changes over the years but none more important than what we are facing right now. I will be the first to say I “wince” at the sound of someone saying, “raising taxes is a good thing.” As a business owner for 15 years, I have come to realize that the cost of doing business is NOT cheap, and if you choose not to plan ahead, you will lose.

The reason why I support Ballot Initiative 2A is that our city government, in this particular situation, is planning ahead. They realize if we don’t forecast a preferred future and plan for specific projects and future growth, Durango as we know it, will become one of many small communities around our country that is falling apart due to poor maintenance & sub-par policing of its businesses and neighborhoods.

Yes, 2A will cost me more. However, I own three commercial buildings and five businesses inside the city limits and the increase would cost me approximately $300 more per month. A cost well worth it to have better roads and improved public services. Durango is a unique and beautiful place to live, and I have an obligation to do my part to help take care of all the resources and amenities that Durango currently offers its amazing citizens and the tens of thousands of people who visit this small mountain town every year. Vote yes on 2A.

– Joe Lloyd, Durango

Let us count the ways 2A is wrong

To the editor,

We have a few comments as to how the city is going to spend the new revenue from the proposed increases in city sales tax, city property tax, and city fees.

• City Sales Tax - Sweetie Marbury said in a Herald article dated Aug. 15 and 22 that since Farmington was proposing a sales tax increase, then we could too ... we could think of a number of reasons too numerous to mention why this doesn’t make sense. Be our guest in adding yours.

• Property Tax Increase - The proposed 5.4 mil levy increase to the present 5.007 mil levy is more than double (107 percent) what property owners are paying now. Really? These are the same property owners that are reeling from the constant utility bill increases for the last three years. This increase will be an even bigger hit to the commercial property owners of the city.

• Fee Increases - A Herald article of Aug. 22 also mentioned increasing fees for services and using the excess to shore up shortfalls in other departments. We looked up “fee” in the dictionary which states a fee is a charge for the cost of a service. We surmise any extra amount becomes a tax by any other name. We don’t know when truth isn’t truth, but we sure know when a tax is a tax.

• City Management - Recent articles talk about how the city is going to spend this new revenue. Why should we agree to giving this Council and city manager more revenue to mismanage when they can’t manage the revenue they are presently receiving? We give you two examples:

1) Three government agencies and a number of Indian 

nations decided not to manage any recreation at Lake Nighthorse. The city decided to annex the lake and manage the recreation anyway. At a February 2018 City Council workshop, the city manager stated that the budget for the lake in 2018 would be $500K and revenues were projected to be $300K or less. This is a projected $200K short-fall (the actual shortfall so far is just over $200K as of the middle of August). There was no discussion when the city manager stated these figures ... none. Wouldn’t a shortfall like that have sent up some red flags?

2) The lodgers tax was earmarked to be spent on marketing to promote the City and hopefully get more people to come here to spend and create more revenue. It seems that some of the lodgers tax revenue has been filtered to departments with shortfalls in their spending. If the lodgers tax is to be used for marketing Durango, then that’s the only thing it should be used for.

Before we agree to give more monies to the city to mismanage, we ought to ask the present council & manager to reign in their spending and better manage the funds they have.

This is just two old guys offering their opinion. Let’s hear yours.

– Gary Jenkins, Gerald Weis, Durango

Say 'thanks' by voting yes on 2A

To the editor,

My husband and I have been residents of Durango for over 40 years. I am the daughter of a San Francisco fireman. We were delighted when the property tax for the fire department passed last year, and we both feel strongly that our police department deserves what will benefit them with the passage of 2A. Everyone believes in the work that our first responders do, but we need to more than just say thank you in Facebook posts.

The money from 2A will be put to good use by the department and will also show them that we believe in them and what they do for us. We also think the part of 2A that will go to improve city streets is a good thing. We live on the West Side, and these improvements to complete streets and make them ADA accessible are also needed. Please remember your fellow citizens when you look at your ballot.

– Susan and James Mooney, Durango

Allison Aichele knows the ropes

To the editor,

As a retired CPA, I understand the accounting challenges of the position of treasurer. I have also experienced changes in software and the challenges of handling accounting work in an office with limited staff to cover duties. Allison Aichele has made significant strides in increasing efficiencies with limited staff and through software conversions. La Plata County needs her to continue the work she has begun, improving the services provided with thoroughness and accuracy. The audit findings related to internal controls show the difficulty of cross-training and covering work with vacations and sick leave and yet segregating duties. Until the county can afford additional staff for the Treasurer’s Office, that finding will continue. I recommend a vote for Allison Aichele for La Plata County Treasurer.

– Virginia Miller-Cavanagh, Durango

Don't buy oil & gas' propaganda

To the editor,

After reading Tracy Chamberlain’s article in the Telegraph about Prop 112 I felt I needed to respond. This article at first seems fair and balanced but it left me thinking that Tracy is writing in favor of oil and gas and in opposition to Prop 112. There were no quotes from the proponents of Prop 112 only from Christi Zeller who works for the oil and gas industry. Nor was there any mention of the multiple scientific studies demonstrating the negative health impacts of living or working in close proximity to oil and gas wells. Nor was the fact mentioned that some  of these wells have exploded recently killing and poisoning Coloradans and safer setbacks are needed for a safer evacuation distance. Nor is there any mention that the U.N. just released a report that says fossil fuels are a threat to civilization and that we need to immediately reduce our reliance on these sources if we are going to continue living on this planet. The argument made in this article is that the oil and gas companies won’t have  anywhere to drill in Colorado and they will have to keep poisoning us with the 50,000 wells they already have!

The other argument quoted from the oil and gas industry is that tax revenue will decrease if Prop 112 passes claiming, “La Plata County will lose millions of dollars in tax revenue.” This article fails to mention that the oil and gas industry will continue paying as little taxes as possible, and as the oil and gas industry is phased out and other sources of energy are produced, the tax burden will shift to those industries. Nor does this article mention how we prop up the oil and gas industry with not only our health but with our tax dollars, going to road repair and construction, health care, emergencies, and drill site clean up. As we turn this beautiful planet into a wasteland, I am sure we will be happy with our decision to keep those tax dollars flowing from oil and gas; we couldn’t possibly get tax revenue from anywhere else. This is a false trap created by an insidious industry.

The only reason that the oil and gas companies are able to make such excessive profit is because they externalize their costs. Who pays those costs? Not only the residents of Colorado, who pay with their health, health care costs and tax dollars, but also the employees of the oil and gas industry who risk their health and lives so these companies can make millions, for example the Koch brothers.

Multiple studies in multiple states have confirmed the ill effects of living and working close to oil and gas well sites. Oil and gas production is not only detrimental to our health, it is jeopardizing life on this planet. We have to cut back on fossil fuels in favor of energy sources that will not put our health and the health of future generations at risk. As we shut down the fossil fuel industry, we will have the ability to build a stronger economy with better, safer and more resilient energy and jobs that benefit the whole and not just the few.

Please think critically about this issue and don’t believe the propaganda. Please do some research, look at who is funding both sides, look at the articles about Prop 112 in Reuters and U.S. News and World Report, as well as the U.N.

report on fossil fuels. The oil and gas industry has spent over $20 million trying to fight this while concerned citizens in favor have raised about $1 million. I encourage you to vote against the Koch brothers and this industry that is poisoning us for profit, and vote YES on Prop 112.

– Brian Gaddy, Durango