No to fire tax hike
Please vote "no" on 5A, Eagle River Fire District's proposed tax increase. The recent letters supporting 5A have come from former Fire District Board members or others with a direct interest in increased funding for the Eagle River Fire Protection District.
Virtually every local governing body, special improvement and metropolitan district in Eagle County is faced with budgetary constraints. All of them are reducing their operational budgets and finding ways to live within their means. This is exactly what many of our neighbors and Eagle County residents are doing, and the Eagle River Fire Protection District should do the same.
There are five excellent reasons you should vote "no" on 5A. First, there are four separate fire protection entities along the Eagle River corridor. Four fire departments cost more to administer and operate than one. If these fire districts were to consolidate into one department, just as the ambulance districts chose to do, I believe service could be delivered without a tax increase. Taxpayers in Eagle County should expect and demand more efficiency and savings achievable through consolidation prior to any request for increased taxes.
Second, if 5A passes, the tax increase will continue year after year even when the property values rise in the future, as they surely will. Once property values are back in line with 2008 assessments, the tax increase will result in excess funds for the Eagle River Fire Protection District .
Third, many of the calls that the Eagle River Fire Protection District responds to are medical calls. There is already a tax-supported advance life support ambulance district in place for medical emergencies. If a fire truck is needed, the response can be made with a two-person rescue truck, which is vastly less expensive to purchase, maintain and operate than the current protocol.
Fourth, if there is a catastrophic wildfire similar to High Park or Waldo Canyon fires earlier this year, the funds from the requested tax increase can not possibly purchase enough equipment or keep enough firefighters on call to suppress such an incident. Resources for these large fires are dispatched through a national deployment system.
Fifth, a number of Eagle River Fire Protection District career firefighters reside outside Eagle county, even as far away as Denver. Some of their salaries exceed $80,000 with mandated overtime. The Eagle River Fire Protection District should insist that their employees live locally so that they could be called in for potential emergencies.
While it is surprising to learn that some of our firefighters live out of the county, we tax payers have insult added to injury by having the salaries earned and paid in Eagle County being spent elsewhere. This results in less money in our local economy, and ironically, is a contributing factor to Eagle River Fire Protection District's request for a tax increase two years in a row.
There are several other good reasons to vote "no" on 5A, but the five items listed above are sufficient to cause every Eagle County taxpayer to tell the Eagle River Fire Protection District to live within its means.
Editor's note: The tax increase would be capped at the district's 2010 funding level.
Fancher for Avon Council
Having spent my summer and fall scrutinizing the Avon Town Council's every move on the Village at Avon matter, I am vividly reminded what hard work it is to be a public servant there.
That's why I am grateful that Jennie Fancher is running for Town Council. Jennie has the commitment, intelligence and work ethic to make Avon a better place.
She has endless energy and is a critical thinker -- two essentials for great leadership in Avon over the next four years. Please vote for Jennie Fancher for Avon Town Council.
Tamra Nottingham Underwood
For Layman, Holm
Well, it's only a couple weeks away. We will soon decide the future course of our c, and just as importantly, the future direction of our county. While we have several very good candidates. As usual, it comes down to their vision of what is right for all of us.
When you walk into the booth this November, ask yourself what your priorities are for the next four years. Should we continue our record number of foreclosures? Should we continue with our "closed for business" attitude that has emanated from our local commissioner chambers in Eagle? Should we continue with the most restrictive business regulations in the state of Colorado, driving new businesses and residents to other parts of the state?
Most states and counties have economic development boards to attract new businesses and new residents to broaden their tax base. We have elected officials who do everything in their power to drive it away.
Shall we be told it is not up to us to decide if we want to continue the $5 million open space funding, or should our elected officials do the right thing and allow us to vote on this tax? Currently, they all refuse to put this on the ballot. Why do you suppose this is so?
We have an incumbent commissioner who, for the record, is a very nice man. He is cordial, open to discussion, and has always been very friendly to me and everyone else I have spoken with. The problem I have with voting for Mr. Stavney is his priorities for Eagle County.
His campaign signs tell it all. "Vote for Rivers" in Wolcott. I am voting for jobs, prosperity and better schools for Eagle County, as well as for economic growth, not rivers.
"Fairground Development is Economic Development" in Eagle. Sorry, that is quite frankly not enough. Maybe the cows and horses would agree with that statement, but not me.
Also, $5 million a year would go a long way to improve our schools. We already have 83 percent of our county in federal, state and county open space. Let us vote on it, Mr. Stavney. The citizens of Eagle County do know what is best for themselves, and if you think that is their decision, let's find out, sir.
We are losing more of our neighbors every day. More homes are falling into painful, destructive, family killing foreclosures. This has to stop. People can't live in rivers, nor at the fairgrounds. Let's change our direction this fall.
Vote for Jeff Layman and Courtney Holm.
Open space force multiplier
I'm certainly not an anti development person, but I do believe it's in our community's best interest that the Eagle Valley floor not be completely developed with hard surfaces, creating a land mass that doesn't adequately allow drainage to be filtered before entering the water ways.
In La Jolla, Calif., near the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, I recently noticed this sign: "This native vegetation provides an effective way to keep urban runoff from reaching the ocean (say creeks and rivers, also) and reduces erosion." Open space allows for good vegetation and water filtration.
By having a dedicated open space fund, our county is much more likely to receive funding from other sources, whether federal, state or private, for funding of open space. Great Outdoors Colorado, the lottery money, has funded open space projects in Colorado counties with dedicated open space funds to the tune of $6.6 million in 2011 alone. Over the entire history of GOCO, they have awarded over $18 million to projects right here in Eagle County.
In order to even be considered for this funding, applicants have to demonstrate broad community support for a project and be able to raise a significant portion of the project funding by themselves.
The Eagle County voter-approved dedicated open space tax proves both of these criteria to potential funders such as GOCO. Having an open space tax allows open space applicants the ability to leverage our local Eagle County money (both open space tax dollars and private donations) to receive GOCO lottery money and other funding, thus doubling or tripling the investment in open space.
Bringing up a settled ballot question again and again does not help Eagle County residents and could hurt our image with these regional and national funders. Please do not place the open space tax on the ballot again.
Award to celebrate
Dear Jen Jewett: Thank you for taking the time to write a letter to the editor congratulating Dr. Sandra Smyser on her Superintendent of the Year award. I agree and believe that the award is an honor for the entire community of Eagle County and something in which we should all relish. We all deserve to be proud of our schools, principals, teachers, students, and the K-12 education of our children.
The criteria for Superintendent of the Year by the Colorado Association of School Executives are the performance indicators for the school system where each candidate is superintendent. The evaluation criteria by which Dr. Smyser was assessed, is based on individual school district performance. the association's website has detailed information regarding criteria selection at www.co-case.org.
The association's criteria for evaluation to be Superintendent of the Year affirm that Dr. Smyser's award was based on her ability and success at addressing the difficulties Eagle County Schools' face as a district.
The common formative assessments that Eagle County Schools administers are part of the new rigorous curriculum the entire state of Colorado will be adopting. There is a national movement towards the same type of analysis and rigor the school district has already implemented.
Because of the extraordinary work of our teaching staff and the guidance of our administration, Eagle County Schools is ahead of the curve in implementing the process and has been able to leverage knowledge, curriculum design, and experiences into grants, experience for our teachers and students, and national recognition.
As the volunteer president of the Education Foundation of Eagle County, I take responsibility for asking you to write a personal check to keep teachers in our buildings. There is a massive and gross public education funding crises in the sate of Colorado. The funding crisis is not our fault. However, we believe that in coming together as a community we can be part of the solution.
As well, it is my personal experience that Dr. Smyser and the Board of Education are very approachable. I would invite you to email, call or even Facebook Eagle County Schools. I think you would be pleasantly surprised by the response, willingness to listen to your concerns, and intelligent dialogue. The Board of Education meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month and videos of the meetings are on the school district's website.
I believe Dr. Smyser would agree that the pillars of our schools are the educators who spend over 1,000 hours per year educating our children. The Education Foundation of Eagle County is working hard to recognize those educators who are especially making a difference; and we believe that leadership starts at the top. Our great teacher's results are the product of a well led system.
We join you in honoring Dr. Smyser, thank you for your investment in education in Eagle County, and invite you to join us in being part of the solution. If you would like to participate in the Education Foundation of Eagle County, our meetings are every other second and fourth Thursday of each month at noon at Battle Mountain High School.
As well, there are a wide variety of foundation events and committees including financial, research, technology, Effective Apple Awards, Effective Speaking Series, and grant writing that meet at other times and would welcome help.