Cari Hermacinski: A spending problem
April 8, 2009
I find it ironic that some members of our community call for a property tax most loudly during a time of economic struggle. In my view, our local municipal government does not have a revenue problem; it has a historic overspending problem. We have an unfortunate history of spending more than we collect, even when revenue collections far exceed projections. While it is true that monies collected from taxpayers should be reinvested back into the community to benefit taxpayers, responsible government leaders should be saving some of the excess revenue during economic ups so that core services are not jeopardized during inevitable economic downs.
If this community wants to evaluate its taxing structure to determine if there are options, or a combination of options, that are less regressive or more diversified, I will be part of that effort, but looking for a source of revenue that is “stable” during all types of economic crises is a fruitless effort. All financial systems and the methods of taxation tied to those financial systems are subject to highs and lows and should be expected. “Stability” is a myth. It is responsible spending, during good times and bad, and saving for the proverbial rainy day that will give us a stable and reliable government in the long term.
Local government’s response to a decrease in revenue should not be to attempt to extract more money from its community. We should expect that our local government leaders remember the lessons of recession and when recovery occurs have the foresight to prepare for the next financial downturn. I am confident that if city leaders maintain a long-term focus on core services and do not revert to historic overspending, we will have a city government with the ability to provide services in economic ups and downs without resorting to crisis modes of operation.
Steamboat Springs City Council President Pro-tem