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Talk is cheap, but talk can also be expensive

by Edi Sheldon,
former mayor
WALSENBURG — This small city, just like many other cities, counties and states is having difficulty edging its way through the current economic downturn. Many adverse factors such as losing businesses and population decreases have caused the need to drastically increase rates for water, sewer, gas, and now taxes to assist in helping to cover a critical financial shortfall.
However, there are a number of people who are adamantly opposed to the proposed increase in the mill levy needed to finance the city because they believe the city has mismanaged its funds – and the talk just goes on and on.
Some mistakes have occurred over the years due to many factors of which term limits may be a big issue. Changes on council and administration over several years have been challenging to our local government.
Still, in reality, a lot of changes have been very positive and very few have actually been negative enough that a recovery action did not bring everything back on track. This being said, all the naysayers need to realize that the need for additional income to the city is not because of mismanagement but because of a badly decreasing local economy in need of bolstering.
It is far easier and cheaper to correct the deficit with the increase in the mill levy, than it will be in the future to deal with the rapid increase of the debt load being carried by the city.
If you own a residence, valued at $50,000, the four mill levy increase will generate an increased cost to you of only $15.92 per year in taxes. This money will go directly to the General Fund. It is estimated that the four mill increase in the mill levy will bring in an additional $100,000 per year.
The mill levy increase will not completely erase the deficit existing in the General Fund this year, but it is a step in the right direction and will add additional income now and in the future.
If the mill levy increase does not pass, the city will still have to pay costs with reduced income and the deficit will exponentially increase. Folks need to realize that the deficit is getting larger each year, This could entail an increased cost to you, the taxpayer, from fewer services available and the prospect of decreasing property values which means a decrease in your investment as a property owner.
The biggest need for a financial injection is into the General Fund which is funded by property taxes. The General Fund is the city’s biggest enterprise and also the fund that pays the lion’s share of expenses. The city has five separate and distinct businesses that are known as enterprises. Finances in these enterprises can only be exchanged under limited conditions according to statute. They are very strictly regulated by state and local ordinances.
We have been experiencing extreme drought, heavy rains, larger than usual wildfires, serious breaks in aging utility lines, and more. The reserves in the General Fund and the enterprise funds have been able to support lots of emergency problems, but the reserves are rapidly diminishing.
Voters should go to City Hall and go to City Council and sit in on the meetings to gather more understanding. You are the voting public, the electorate which chooses “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people! This is why elections are held and it is your privilege to participate and not to let others do the deciding for you.
These ballot issues affect your life. So, if you don’t like what is happening, make sure you find out what is causing that which irritates you, then whether it is possible to correct it. Don’t let your neighbor or buddy down the street tell you what to do with your ballot.