Oak Creek needs money and participation
Walking the plank
Residents in Oak Creek spoke loud and clear on election night when they voted down two use taxes, 16-154 and 18-154.
What they said was they want town leaders to figure out how to balance the budget with the money they have.
Who can blame them? Nobody likes to pay taxes, especially in Oak Creek, where a large population of people live to avoid the high cost of living in Steamboat.
I’d vote for an additional tax if it was for a good cause and the town or county proved beyond any reasonable doubt that it absolutely needed the extra money. I think most people feel that way.
However, in Oak Creek, I don’t think the town convinced its residents that the taxes were needed.
As anyone who has driven through Oak Creek lately knows the town needs some work done on its pot-holed roads. Water and sewer systems also need some work and that takes money.
I think the town residents know that and would be happy to pay for the work if they were given the opportunity.
However, when the taxes were advertised to the public a few months back, instead of explaining that the extra money would go to roads or water and sewer, the ballot questions were written in a way that made it clear the money would go to parks and recreation.
When I talked to a few voters after the election on April 4, many wondered why the town wanted money for parks and rec when the roads are in the shape they are.
In a word, I’d describe most people I talked to as “annoyed.”
But that doesn’t mean at least one of the taxes may have been needed.
Ever since the trustees released the 2000 budget and it showed that they would be dipping into dwindling reserve funds, the local representatives realized that an additional source of income would help fix the budget problem.
For many years now, town leaders have spent more than they’ve taken in. Because of that, I think it’s clear that a new source of income is needed if the town wants to continue the way it has.
That’s where the idea for the two taxes came from. One was a tax on construction materials and the other was a sales tax on vehicles.
The talk of funding parks and recreation only was a tool to sell the taxes. If passed, the money originally allocated for parks and recreation would go into the general fund to pay for town operations — including infrastructure improvements.
It’s time for Oak Creek officials to figure out their money problems. It’s a thankless task that, according to attendance at town meetings, nobody wants to think about.
I encourage Oak Creek residents to come to a couple of town meetings and see what the trustees are doing. Offer some solutions to problems or simply consider some of the brain-deadening issues the trustees face.
Use taxes in Oak Creek may or may not be needed. But one thing is needed for sure — a community that’s understanding and thinking about what it costs to run a town.
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