Ten bucks here, half percent there, it all adds up

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

Especially when taxpayers are hit left and right seemingly every day of every year to make up for “underfunded” government entities that if logic is taken to the next conclusion, will never have enough money.

And these tax issues are just something in the spotlight due to the fact they’re on the ballot and need voter approval. Then again, in River City, voter rejection doesn’t mean what the government wants won’t happen anyway. And readers, that’s why we find ourselves in the place of distrust in Mesa County we find ourselves in today: They keep coming back for more after assuring us the last increase would solve all the problems. That, and you’re not allowed to question ballot initiatives, let alone oppose any of them for fear of being labeled “against the children,” thinking “teachers are overpaid” or the “you want criminals roaming our streets looking for victims” because you’re “anti-law enforcement.”

All because you might have some questions about where your money is going (yes, even if it is $10) or you’d like to see our government — for once — actually take the extra money, solve the problem and NEVER come back for more (you know, like they said the last time). I know it’s a reach, but a poor publisher and father of two can dream, no?

So let’s have a quick look at a couple of the initiatives on the ballot at the risk of being labeled anti something or hater. It won’t matter much to some. But in more than  17 years here in the Grand Valley, I’ve had zero government or community based decisions that’ve benefited me personally or in my business despite being told how they will — the anticipated North Avenue revenue boom aside. It’s not like I make zip lines, but I hope a few sales bucks and subsidies come my way.

So first up is the next mill levy after the last mill levy to solve all mill levy underfunding from School District 51. This is where apparently I hate kids, but I’ll move forward. After all, how can a district fall nearly $250 MILLION behind in building maintenance and construction unless it simply isn’t getting enough money from taxpayers. I honestly don’t know, but I do know I would’ve tried to address it well before it got this huge. Maybe it’s because they think bigger numbers will sell what they want better. Or maybe they’re spending money in the wrong place. Or maybe it’s because the way our schools are funded is unfair.

Let’s start with the last one. Of course how schools are funded is unfair. It’s a political thing, which also makes it a political solution. But there’s no desire in Denver to fund students equally, so that’s out the window. Do I know where our school dollars are going? No, I don’t. But logic dictates they’re not going to fund building maintenance in the proper amounts. And no matter the number of studies the district can produce or number of jobs they promise to bring to the valley should we approve this, there’s one thing they can’t promise: That they won’t be back at the taxpayer trough “for the children and our future” in the next five years or so because they’re underfunded and the system isn’t fair. My last thought is simple: How can $7 million or
$8 million a year for a few years bridge this gap in building and maintenance funding and prevent this from occurring all over again in a few years?

My solution, do a one-time tax levy of $300 per household and give them all the money they say they need, and then not let them ever ask for a tax increase again if they can’t manage it correctly. I’ll write a check right now. That’s how a bank would do it in the real world. But none of that fixes the real problem, and that’s how the state apportions and plays with school funding.

As for the law enforcement initiative, I have little to no idea, as it has always been my goal to stay as far away from law enforcement as possible, with experience being my teacher. How that relates to the ballot initiative I don’t know. All I can say is I’m doing my part to keep costs low. My other solution is to make crime really pay so criminals go elsewhere.

In the end, like with all things, you can’t keep taking more and more of every dollar citizens earn bit by bit before the people look up and say no more. Do our schools need better funding? Of course. Do our schools run the way I’d prefer?
Of course not. Does the county need more law enforcement dollars? Probably.
Will it enforce laws as I see as logical?
Of course not. More importantly, will either of these entities take the time to keep the public informed of needs and successes after both of these initiatives are approved so we don’t end up in this mess again?
I doubt it. It always seems like government approaches only after it creates a crisis of its own to pressure the taxpayer.

After all, that’s what works best. Which when it comes to me on these ballot issues, it will work again.