Confusing ballot language
April 22, 2014
I’m voting “yes” on both Ballot Issues A and B in the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District election. Here’s why. Voting yes on “A” means it will cost less in the long run — both collectively and for most of us as individuals. Voting “yes” on B opens the door to further reduce costs for us collectively and for everyone individually. The ballot language is confusing. That’s unfortunate because A is a simple choice of “how do we want to pay” for the wastewater improvements the district must make — but ballot language can’t be written as a choice. “A” only asks whether we want to fund the upgrades through our property taxes. Vote “yes” and you choose taxes, while saving almost $2 million due to lower interests rates the district can get.
Vote “no” and you choose to pay higher sewer rates (that will cost most individuals more than the tax option), plus you increase the overall cost due to higher interest rates. Either way, the district will make the improvements because new rules from the state health department make them a requirement.
“B” asks to release the district from the revenue limitations of TABOR. Why are they asking now, when TABOR was passed in the ‘90s? Because they’ve operated as an “enterprise” under TABOR, getting less than 10 percent of total revenue from government sources (things like property taxes or grants). If we vote “yes” on A to save money, the district will most certainly exceed that 10 percent TABOR threshold. If we want some of the cost of the upgrades to be funded by grants, further reducing the potential cost to all of us, then we should also vote “yes” on B. The two questions are linked; we may not get the lower cost of “yes” on A unless we also vote “yes” on B.
Neither question affects our TABOR right to approve any future potential tax increase; this is fundamental to TABOR and cannot be taken away.
Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s election is being done by mail. Find your ballot, vote “yes” on A and B, and return your ballot by May 6.