Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 may push our community into a deeper long-term recession. Why would our community want to vote in favor of a recession? Most families and businesses are in a financial crisis mode right now and are cutting costs wherever possible in their budgets. So, most of us would be tempted to vote for 101, 60 and 61 because the proponents of these initiatives are presenting the reduction of some taxes and the elimination of some forms of taxation.
We advocate for the growth and vitality of the whole community and its infrastructure, but the extreme anti-community impacts of these initiatives encouraged us to oppose Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61. We are not alone in this thinking. Our state Rep. Randy Baumgardner, in his recent letter to the editor in the Steamboat Pilot & Today stated, “These initiatives would be devastating to our local governments and school districts, placing burdensome requirements on their ability to plan and budget appropriately for the future.”
The negative impacts of these initiatives to our community far outweigh the tax savings being presented. If we pass these initiatives in November the loss of jobs and funding for capital projects will put more pressure on our fragile and slow economic recovery in Routt County. An analysis of Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 has revealed the measures are draconian in nature and will immediately and severely impact some of the most important infrastructure and institutions in our community.
Proposition 101 eliminates funding for transportation infrastructure improvements by reducing vehicle registration fees and eliminating vehicle ownership taxes. Colorado’s transportation budget already has been reduced in recent years because of declining gas tax revenues and state budget shortfalls. Proposition 101 would reduce funds allocated to the Steamboat Springs School District via specific ownership taxes from $1,250,000 to $20,000 annually, which challenges its ability to even operate. Routt County revenues would be reduced $5,690,000 annually.
Amendment 60 would deal another blow to the already challenged budget of our school district by phasing out school district mill levies. In order to keep the schools running, the state would have to “backfill” $1.2 billion annually, including $1,473,000 annually for Steamboat Springs schools. As a voter, you should know that this amendment would repeal all previous “de-Brucing” ballot initiatives that a majority of us voted for. Amendment 60 would reduce funding to Horizons Specialized Services by $584,982 annually and would require currently exempt entities to pay property tax. As an example, the Nutritional Services Department of the Steamboat Springs School District would have to pay property taxes.
Amendment 61 limits voter-approved borrowing to a 10-year repayment period. The multimillion dollar capital projects that require voter approval simply cannot be paid in a 10-year timeframe. Would it be a burden for you to pay off your mortgage in 10 years instead of 30? Imagine the monthly payment and what that would do to your family budget. Certificates of participation financing would be eliminated under Amendment 61, which means that capital projects like the Routt County Justice Center and the Steamboat Springs City Hall remodel would not happen. The amendment also prohibits all levels of government from incurring any debt without voter approval, including the Urban Renewal Authority in Steamboat Springs.
There are many more documented and measurable impacts to our community that are beyond the scope of this letter. Suffice it to say that Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 are job-killing, anti-community measures that are bad for businesses and families in Routt County. Please consider learning all you can about these proposals and vote no on all three of them.
Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, Steamboat Springs chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, Steamboat Springs High School Parent Information Committee and Yampa Valley Medical Center