Leonard Herzog: Obligations

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Hopefully still fresh in our minds is that the good people of the city of Steamboat Springs generously offered ourselves a 0.25 percent sales tax increase basically donating that money to Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. to keep our air service program viable. The latest program results are a decrease of seats by 14 percent and decreased passenger count of 10 percent. 

Why do we respond to the desperate requests for more money to throw at a system that should be obliterated and replaced with a new, viable, innovative system? It is because we have allowed ourselves to be obligated by debt to operate the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, until the year 2033, at an operating cost of $3 million per year whether it works or not.

The city of Steamboat Springs has facilitated beautiful amenities such as the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, Haymaker Golf Course and Howelsen Hill Ice Arena to name a few. Apparently, few of those facilities are self-sustaining. All of the above had lined up for a continuing share of the accommodations tax. 

Now you are expected to vote to have the accommodations tax obligate the city to a multiple-fiscal year obligation for 10 years toward two new projects, one of which you will not be able to access due to insufficient parking on and around Yampa Street, the other fitting the description of “enhancing the city as a destination resort” providing some nice bike trails. Destination resort may have been relevant defining Steamboat Springs in 1986; in 2014, Tahiti and China are destination resorts; Steamboat is a few hours away and the average visitation is what — four days long?

The generous accommodations tax that we inflict on our guests has been chewed up and redigested so many times that we have included the language “may be spent at the discretion of the city council” just so that we are sure that council hasn’t been able to muster up discretion until we further obligate ourselves.

Amendment 66? Isn’t it obvious that we have not been able to cure the broken education system by throwing money at it? Amendment 66 seeks to increase the state income tax rate by 8 percent on income less than $75,000, and by 27 percent on income more than $75,000. “The economy would lose $224 million in economic activity on average over the first 5 years and a loss of $993 million 2019-2040,” according to Common Sense Policy Economic Roundtable. 

How could we incur these losses by raising money? To find out, all we have to do is keep taxing ourselves until we have no money to spend. If that is hard to follow, try. Earn a dollar, pay a dollar in taxes, go to the food bank with the balance. 

Should marijuana be taxed? Sure, it will cost society to manage it. Most likely much less money than when it was illegal, but those resources will be reallocated to other important law enforcement projects. We don’t need to reallocate those resources when we can have a whole new law enforcement bureaucracy administered by the state. Let’s give birth to another Division of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives and Marijuana and Drones, complete with SWAT teams.

If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. Just ask Washington, D.C.

Leonard Herzog

Routt County

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