LOCAL HEROESAt a time when much of our media’s focus is on national events and the heroes that have taken part in them, I would like to draw attention to some local heroes. Although they neither risked their lives to save the lives of others nor set up first aid stations to care for the thousands injured, they have indeed positively affected the lives of many. I speak today of the people who work at The Industrial Company. When asked to help some of the students of Routt County, TIC readily agreed.
I am a fourth grade teacher at Soda Creek Elementary. At the beginning of every year, my students’ parents must purchase a number of school supplies. We can all remember the glee we shared as children at the prospect of picking out new folders and pencils. That pure pleasure may have hidden from view the price tag that accompanied our back-to-school shopping spree. Shadowed, perhaps, from children’s view, the bill is quite apparent to the holder of the checkbook. Last year, our team of teachers was looking for a way to ease the financial burden to the parents of our students. We looked for a way to decrease the size of the annual school supply list we sent home. By removing calculators from our list, we realized, we could considerably reduce parents out of pocket expense.
As educators, we struggled with the idea that our students would not have access to calculators. Although there is a large amount of mathematical study that can be carried out with pencil and paper, studnets’ understanding of mathematics is heightened when integrated with calculator study. For this reason, we did not want to abandon the use of calculators all together. We decided, therefore, to go to the community. Our request for calculators and support materials was granted. Barbara Judd at TIC said that she would be more than happy to help support learners in our community. Thanks to Judd, the fourth graders at Soda Creek are refining their math skills and improving their technological proficiency. From all of these students, and the fourth grade teachers, I thank you for your vision and your support.
4th Grade Teacher
Soda Creek Elementary
RABBIT EARS FACTORYDo you want to see a FACTORY at the foot of Rabbit Ears Pass? If we take no action that’s what will happen.
Lafarge is proposing to create a new giant gravel pit on the More property at the foot of Rabbit Ears pass. There will be sand and gravel mining, an asphalt plant and a concrete plant a veritable factory with its noise, dust, heavy equipment and enormous truck traffic. As you come down the pass you will look down on it, as will every visitor to Steamboat Springs. If approved, it will be there for 30 years.
Lafarge is a foreign company, not concerned with our community values or with our pride in the Valley. To them, it’s just money. To us, it’s the only Yampa Valley we’ve got.
This is a cause where Business should be with us, shoulder to shoulder. If there’s one hallmark of our tourist economy, surely it’s the wonderful shock of seeing the beautiful Yampa Valley spread out before you as you descend the Pass. This can be destroyed by a stroke of the pen from any two of our three county commissioners.
If you want to PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING, come to the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, this Thursday, Oct. 18, at 7 pm. and make your views known to the decision-makers. If you cannot be there, write a brief note to the Commissioners at PO Box 773087.
A LOOK AT TAXATIONTax, a word we love to hate, and at times, a necessary evil. Taxes are the principle source of revenue for local government. As a result, some means is needed to determine the tax base within the county.
Taxes may impose different burdens on people of different ages and place a larger burden on poor and middle-income families. Are the taxes in Routt County rising faster than a person’s income?
This November, three tax increase proposals are being placed on the ballot. Two tax increases are for quality childcare, and the third one is a proposed transportation tax for an airlines guarantee program. Specifically, one will be a property tax, one will be a general sales tax increase, and lastly, one will be a tourism tax.
County taxes historically have increased at the rate of 4.5 percent annually. A few reasons for the yearly tax increase include higher property valuation, rising costs of goods and services and mandated programs. As a South Routt resident, presently we are paying 64 mil on taxable property. A one mil levy, around ten dollars, again increases the tax base. In the following years, how many more tax increases will we have to bare?
Who pays the price for property increases? Here is where there are differing views. The individual may be adversely affected because wages do not keep up with the higher tax. Likewise, an increase will be borne by the people renting, in the form of higher rents, rather than the property owner. Conversely, some individuals may benefit because of the tax generated by the higher valued properties.
Also, individuals will benefit by having better services. However, business may not be attracted because of the increased tax base. Or, business may pass the increase onto the consumer.
Property taxes have its most merit when it directly enhances the property values, for example, sewage pipes or protection services. When property taxes finance recreation or childcare, they are less convincing. This property tax increase, perhaps, is hard to justify.
The sales tax increase of a half-cent would raise the tax to 8.9 percent. Does this tax paid to the city equally distribute the benefits? Economic resources are used efficiently when they are employed where they receive the highest value.
The city tax is targeted for the local public good, unlike property taxes, which are designated for “equal protection” of funding among districts.
Therefore, the city tax collected spent in city limits, will bring a great inequality where children live. Disparities could have been avoided if Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa also proposed a sales tax increase on the ballot.
Lastly, the city would like to levy taxes that burden people who cannot vote in elections. As tempting as tourism taxes are, they are not always the bonanzas that localities think they are. In some cases, higher taxes may mean a decrease in the number of visitors, thus we could end up with less revenue overall.
Prior to voting in November, take a look at your county tax notice, then mentally list all the other taxes paid. Now, look at the possible taxes in the future; Court House, South Routt Library, teacher’s salary, South Routt recreation, Hayden recreation and others.
Please support the measures that will bring you the services that are both efficient and equitable.
Gary G. Miller
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