Judging from early voting totals, residents have taken a keen interest in Tuesday's city, county and school elections.
Already, more than 1,200 people have cast ballots in the election through early voting. That's a healthy turnout considering the last time similar elections were held, in November 1999, half of that total voted early. Indications are there will be a healthy turnout, which doesn't usually happen in odd-numbered years when we're not voting on a president, governor or congressman.
That's good. The decisions on the ballot Tuesday are of critical importance. And last fall's presidential election should have, if nothing else, demonstrated the power of each and every vote that is cast. Through this page, we have tried to present the widest variety of views possible on the election issues. We have included our own views on the election and we reiterate them here now:
n Referendum 3A, cost-of-living pay increase for teachers. Referendum 3A would increase property taxes enough to raise $773,000 to fund a cost-of-living pay increase for teachers. We believe this is an opportune time to approve such a measure, because our teacher pay is not competitive with comparable districts and because we can implement the referendum and still enjoy a lower tax burden. Because our tax base has increased so much, property taxes will still go down if Referendum 3A is approved, just not as much as they would if the referendum is defeated. We believe voters should vote "yes" on Referendum 3A.
n Referendum 2A, the 3-2-1 transportation tax. The 3-2-1 transportation tax would increase sales taxes on items most frequently used by tourists ski lift tickets, lodging, sporting equipment rentals, entertainment and restaurant meals. The money raised from the increased taxes estimated at $2.8 million would be used to fund airline flight guarantees and the city's free bus service. We believe the airline flight guarantees are critical to our tourist economy and that the tax is structured in a way that has as little impact as possible on local residents' wallets. Thus we believe voters should approve Referendum 2A.
n Referendum 1A and Referendum 2B, early childhood education taxes. Referendum 1A is a countywide property-tax increase to support early childhood education and Referendum 2B is a half-cent sales-tax increase in Steamboat Springs to support early childhood education. Together, the taxes would raise some $2.2 million. While the highest quality early childhood education is something our community should strive to achieve, we are not convinced the tax proposals are the appropriate means to get there. Primarily, there are too many unanswered questions about the taxes, their costs and their benefits. We believe voters should vote "no" on both Referendum 1A and Referendum 2B.
Whether you agree with our views or not, our sincere hope is that you express your view on the ballot Tuesday.