Question 2A: show us the money

To the editor,

After reading the recent article about Ballot Initiative 2A, it became apparent that the public needs more information to make a better decision. After checking the “2A Fact Sheet” the details remain fuzzy at best. The article mentions the citizen survey that was circulated this summer. I vividly remember filling out this survey and even adding extra comments at the end to make points more clear than just filling in a 1-5 scale answer. If I remember correctly, the survey mentioned the police requesting about $19 million for a new facility. The roads need about $2.5 million. And parks and rec a similar amount, with some other expenditures thrown in as well.

However, from the fact sheet it is unclear how much the city is asking for and what each expense will be. The costs to fix/maintain roads and other infrastructure is understandable, especially with the increase in traffic. The expansion of parks and rec makes sense as well. And we can see that the police station is like all original Durango buildings, small, inefficient and in need of upgrades.

However, there is a new station in Three Springs. And $19M for a new facility seems like an awful lot of money without a solid plan and another one within city limits. This question seems like a lump of spending without enough details – much like the water treatment plant, fire and rescue, and airport and education initiatives that were thrown at us as must-pass initiatives.

Since our population is growing, there is added use of existing infrastructure and services but it also means there are more people contributing to the coffers. How can these be so far out of balance that we need to keep raising taxes? I did not see any firm sunset clause on the 2A fact sheets, so is this increase with us forever? A vague mention that it might end in 2043 is not clear enough.

After voting “yes” on tax increases for education, fire and rescue, and other services/projects over the last 12 years, I am really starting to question whether I can keep voting to increase taxes. It seems like fair to ask for a tax increases to help share the costs and benefits. However, continuously escalating taxes is a recipe for runaway expenditures with no way to ever decrease costs. Ask anyone who came from another state with high property taxes if they felt like they had any way to rein in ever-increasing costs and taxes. Do we feel we are getting our money’s worth? Like Mayor Sweetie said “we get what we pay for and we get what we don’t pay for.” Helping educators teach our kids sure, increasing parks and rec probably, fixing roads and infrastructure sure; a new police station, more police and police cars for $19 million, not so sure.

I would like to see a better breakdown of this ballot and a separation of the expenditures and to vote on them individually. We would probably see citizens put their money where their values lie. Yes, I like to pick which piece of cake I want to eat when I help pay for the cake. Democracy is having a say in our collective choices. Please vote no matter your leanings. It’s your civic duty.

– Derek Wadsworth, Durango