by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg City Council held a town hall meeting last week and very few people showed up. One of the main problems is that they failed to send press releases to the news media to promote the fact that they were having one.
The Walsenburg City Council was wanting to give out information to the public about the detriments of Propositions 60 & 61 and Amendment 101 plus the need to support Ballot Issue 2A, that would allow the Walsenburg City Council to spend the final $500,000 from the city’s power trust fund to help pay for the deficit in building the waste water treatment plant.
Interim administrator Don Saling, did an excellent job in explaining the amendments and propositions to the 10-12 people in attendance. They were mostly members of the Betterment for Walsenburg Committee, who regularly attends city council meetings. Made up of mostly current and former city employees, they heard how passage of 60, 61 and 101 could have a negative impact on their jobs, local businesses and citizens.
The power trust fund was created with the sale of the city electric utility to San Isabel Electric in 1989. It originally had 1.3 million dollars from the sale. Voters approved taking $400,000 from the fund in 1999 for street improvements. In 2004, voters approved taking another $400,000 out to help build the Walsenburg Wild Waters. Now the City Council is hoping voters will approve spending the final half million dollars in the fund to use for paying part of the deficit for the new waste water treatment plant that is mandated by the state. It currently is under construction but the City of Walsenburg is short of money for its completion. If voters decide not to approve of 2A, the City will have to consider taking money from the gas fund which would dangerously deplete some of the city funds needed in areas of operation.
Mayor Bruce Quintana said passage of any one of 60, 61, or 101 will have negative ramifications for the City.
Councilman Dave Mockmore says if any one of 60, 61 or 101 passes, it will affect not only the city but the county and the state of Colorado. Councilman Craig Lessar said that would include fire and police services and protection as well as road maintenance. He felt many people in rural areas of the county may have trouble getting help for emergencies if some roads couldn’t be maintained to get back & forth.
Councilwoman Erin Jerant said many local businesses are already barely surviving and that the passage of 60, 61, or 101 could bring more empty storefronts.
The 60, 61 and 101 proposals are considered the most radical tax reform programs in the country. If they pass, some feel there will be an appeal or stay request in the courts to keep them from taking affect right away until the courts decide if they are legal. Just the waiting could bring lots of uncertainty.
Since very few people knew of the meeting and attendance was small, the City Council hoped the Betterment for Walsenburg group would spread the word to others in the community to vote in favor of 2A but against 60, 61 or 101. 2A will be decided by the voters of Walsenburg. The election is next Tuesday, Nov. 2nd. Voters who have not requested a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot, will go to the polls in Walsenburg, La Veta and Gardner on Tuesday.