Saturday, November 1, 2003
On Tuesday, Routt County residents will decide on candidates and issues that will help shape the future of our communities, our schools and our state.
Residents of a democracy have no greater duty than voting, and we encourage all registered voters to cast ballots. The stronger the turnout, the more closely decisions on issues and candidates will reflect the will of the community.
The Steamboat Pilot & Today does not endorse individual candidates. However, the newspaper's editorial board has takes stances on Tuesday's ballot issues. As a guide, the following is a recap of those stances:
n Referendum A, No: This initiative would allow the state to approve up to $2 billion in revenue bonds for projects such as dams and new reservoirs. In essence, it is a tool that governments, water districts, private entities and others can use to finance projects. While Referendum A proponents are right to advocate increased water storage capacity in Colorado, this measure simply is not needed. Numerous funding resources already exist, and voters should not give the state $2 billion for projects that have not yet been identified.
n Amendment 32, No: This effort to reform the Gallagher Amendment would freeze the assessed value of residential property at 8 percent of valuation for property tax purposes. The state should look at reforming the Gallagher Amendment, but only in combination with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and Amendment 23. It isn't clear what the long-term impact of Amendment 32 -- which in the short term equates to a tax increase for residential property owners -- will be or if this step alone will fix the state's fiscal problems. This is a half-hearted effort at reform that should be defeated.
n Amendment 33, No: The initiative would allow up to 500 video lottery terminals in each of the state's horseracing and dog tracks in Arapahoe County, Commerce City, Loveland, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The state would collect 61 percent of the net proceeds from the terminals, generating an estimated $25 million for tourism promotion. We applaud Sen. Jack Taylor and others for trying to identify a stable source of revenue for tourism promotion. However, we are opposed to expanding gambling and are not convinced it is a viable long-term funding solution. Voters should reject Amendment 33.
n Referendum 1A, Yes: Routt County Referendum 1A would establish a 0.3-mill property tax that would raise $210,000 per year to aid museums and historical organizations in Steamboat Springs, Yampa, Oak Creek, Phippsburg, North Routt County and Hayden. A 0.3-mill tax will cost residential homeowners about $2.38 per $100,000 of valuation and commercial business owners about $8.70 per $100,000 of valuation. In our estimation, that's a small price to pay to ensure the preservation of our history and the tax should be approved.
n Steamboat Springs Referendum 2A, Yes: Referendum 2A would create a 3.55-mill property tax that the city of Steamboat Springs will dedicate to fire and ambulance services. The tax also will free $1.3 million the city can use for capital improvements. The city has a list of projects to be funded if the tax is approved. The list includes important improvements at Yampa Valley Regional Airport and in Ski Time Square. In the short term, this tax gives the city a more stable revenue source that will allow it to improve emergency services and complete capital projects the community needs. It should be approved.