Dick Gustafson: Eagle County in four years under Repubican leadership
Eagle County, CO, Colorado
The date is Dec. 31, 2012. We have gone through a two rough years of recession and have had two more years for a strong recovery. It was a little worse than we would have liked, but we heeded the warnings and the county had a sufficient cash reserve to maintain jobs and services.
The number of departments is a little smaller. The staff members who wished to stay are all safe with secure jobs. Those who retired, moved, or just left, were not replaced. Vital replacements were filled internally.
Taxes have not increased. In fact they were lowered by reducing the mill levy, saving the taxpayers money because irresponsible spending was curtailed and under control. Some desired projects were put on hold, until the economy recovered, but are now being completed. Others were slowly weaned from the county’s budget and the more critical services have survived independently.
Tourism is nearly back to normal because Vail Resorts maintained an active “Escape to Vail” program during the recession giving the guests a quality experience, even with special VR packages.
The airport has been busy, actually busier than usual, because it functions efficiently and effectively though tower control improvements and new hanger and additional tie-down locations. New freight haulers have contracted to use the airport bringing employment to the county. Traffic has increased steadily and seats are nearly full on every flight. VR-subsidized seating is not as necessary as it was in the past.
The recession gave the community a great opportunity. The new commissioners were able to re-evaluate their responsibilities to the citizens of Eagle County. Because of the community caucus group in Vail, Avon, Edwards, Eagle, Gypsum, Basalt, and El Jebel, the county was able to manage smart growth, open space, and recreational parks to meet each area’s “needs.” We were able to supply even more of their “wants” than we had project because of a fiscally well-managed county.
The construction economy (50 percent -60 percent of the total) has largely recovered and has been successful in keeping up with the returning needs for “obtainable” housing: sales, seasonal and year-round rental units. This was all done without the taxpayers paying the bill.
The recession gave the new commissioners time to simplify county regulations, remove unnecessary red tape, and offer tax incentives to builders, thus reducing building costs and offering homes and rentals at more reasonable prices. Illegally extorted fees and taxes were removed from the books and, in appropriate cases, were rebated.
Through intergovernmental cooperation, the RAFTA and ECO bus systems have improved their schedules and this has resulted in a more manageable number of cars on the road, relieving some of the parking problems in Vail and Aspen. Park and ride lots exist in each community located near future potential light rail station sites to utilize the parking for all forms of transportation.
The county has stopped competing with private enterprise in housing, real estate sales, and child care. All “needed” services are being facilitated by the commissioners and are being met through cooperation with local businesses.
There is a new, county-facilitated, assisted-living facility being built under the ownership and management of the valley’s churches. Recycling is being managed under the cooperative guidance of the waste collection companies. The county still subsidizes some necessary services, but the cost to the taxpayer has been greatly reduced.
The commissioners conduct convenient, open, public hearings in the evenings whenever necessary and encourages the citizens to take an active part. Fair and open deliberations and honest decisions are made in full view of all. This is done whenever there are major projects involving taxpayer money and citizen interests.
The county Web site keeps everyone fully informed, even on all spending. Public city hall meetings are conducted periodically, in each community, for the easier access of the citizens. All citizens are welcome to call and/or to visit their commissioners.
This was all possible because you elected Dick Gustafson and Debbie Buckley as your new majority to the Board of County Commissioners on Nov. 4, 2008.
Republican Dick Gustafson is running for the commissioner seat currently held by Demorcrat Peter Runyon.
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