Our View: Yes to 2D, no to 5A

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Editorial Board, Sept. 25, 2011, to January 2012

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

Two Routt County communities will vote this month on tax proposals that would provide additional funding for emergency services. But while one proposal is a sensible request of residents, the other goes too far and should be rejected.

Town of Oak Creek residents are being asked to approve Referendum 2D, a proposal that would raise the town sales tax rate from 3 percent to 4 percent. It’s estimated the tax increase would generate about $39,000 in 2012. Town officials say the new money will be used to help pay for a second full-time police officer. The proposal seems like a reasonable solution to what has been an ongoing law enforcement issue in Oak Creek, and we urge residents there to support it.

The town of approximately 800 residents currently has one full-time police officer and one part-time officer who works seasonally. A second full-time officer would help provide the law enforcement coverage we think many Oak Creek residents want. Of course, the election results will be the real determining factor in whether Oak Creek is ready to embrace a stronger police presence. The town’s recent law enforcement history is a roller coaster of short-lived hires and disagreement among residents about the level of service they want from the police department.

But we think the time is right for Oak Creek to provide additional funding and police protection for its residents. We hope residents feel the same way by voting to approve Referendum 2D.

On the other side of the county, West Routt Fire Protection District residents will decide the fate of Referendum 5A, a property tax increase that would more than double the fire district’s current revenues. But the district lacks a long-term plan for how those new funds will be spent, and it hasn’t demonstrated the need for a permanent tax increase that would boost its annual revenues to $1 million.

Specifically, Referendum 5A would raise the district’s current property tax rate from 2.772 mills to 6.272 mills — an increase of 3.5 mills. The increase alone would generate an estimated $575,000 in 2012.

The fire district says it hasn’t asked for a mill levy increase in 31 years and that it has capital needs, including a new ladder truck, a new rescue truck and an expansion of its fire station. Fire district officials also say they’d like to bring on more full-time firefighters to make up for a drop in volunteer firefighters.

We don’t doubt the fire district does a good job serving its residents, and it very well might have some capital needs. But we think it ought to be clear in how it intends to spend $1 million per year, every year, going forward. District officials say they’re working on a 20-year plan. That’s good, but it should have been completed and shared with residents before a tax increase was placed on the ballot. We urge the West Routt Fire Protection District to finish that plan and come back to the voters next year, perhaps with a property tax increase that sunsets in 20 years to match the term of the long-range plan in an amount that matches the needs identified by that plan.

Until that happens, voters should reject Referendum 5A.

Comments

mmjPatient22 3 years, 2 months ago

And, what....? No mention of ref 2c?!?!
But shouldn't the Pilot be telling people how to vote on 2c? Shouldn't a "news" outlet, such as the Pilot, feel compelled to share their own beliefs with their, most likely, loyal readership? After all, what an opportune time to push their personal views on something like cannabis, while at the same time making it a part of the "news"paper that gets county-wide distribution. I mean, what's so wrong with pumping a "news"paper full of highly opinionated, biased drivel that can be validated/justified simply by calling it an editorialized opinion piece, "our view," or "op-ed" or whatever the hell they want to label it as?

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 2 months ago

I truly do not understand the logic of this editorial.

How can they oppose 5A because there is no long term plan while supporting 2D when there is no long term plan?

And it is not difficult to imagine what the long range plan would look like for the West Routt Fire district because the money would be spent on a mixture of newer equipment and more paid staff.

But what is Town of Oak Creek's long term plan regarding a second officer? 2012 proposed general fund budget has a deficit of $56K. And there will be further revenue declines because properties are selling for well under assessor's valuations. So at this rate of deficit spending and with likely 2013 reduced property tax revenue then it can be expected Town's general fund will have spent the entire fund balance by 2015.

Well, I guess it is a plan, but bankruptcy in 4 years is hardly a sustainable plan.

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kathy foos 3 years, 2 months ago

There is not much activity in South Routt these days.Why would Oak Creek need more police protection?Something is different about the "Our View".Can't quite put my finger on what,just someone different pushing the weight around differently?Brent you need to control these guys,they are kind out of control.We don't need to be told by a newspaper how to vote.That's gross.Please make them stop!

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