Letters: Eagle Co. incumbents will pay for tax hike
Vail CO, Colorado
I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that our elected politicians and public servants have conspired to increase the real estate take by our government in Eagle County by over 30 percent. The beauty of this is that none of them had to vote for an increase, rather they could just sit back and let it happen.
I refer to the increase in real estate taxes that you have or will receive in the mail. When property appraisals went out at a reported (Vail Daily) average increase of 37 percent, I believed the mill rate would be adjusted downwards so the total take would match the budgeted needs of the 70+ entities funded by our real estate taxes. Instead, by doing nothing to lower the mill levies, I find my real estate taxes up over 32 percent. What a nice windfall for the town and county.
Ironically, I have heard the rationalization that the TABOR amendment is the reason for keeping the mill levy at current rates. That is, taxes will be raised inordinately now so these entities won’t have to face approval from voters for some possible tax increase in the future.
In my opinion, a 32 percent rise in taxes without voter approval is precisely the kind of tax increase TABOR was supposed to stop. I believe there are court challenges on the Front Range raising this exact issue.
I have heard the argument that these excess funds will be used as a “reserve”. I know of no political entity that has ever been able to keep excess funds in reserve. There is always some current need the funds can be applied to.
In the town of Vail our Town Council could vote to redo the fountain at the head of Bridge Street for the third time, provide some additional funds to some artist to temporarily put more wind blown lights along the golf course or put up a bubble along the golf course and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy, put up, tear down and store the bubble year after year.
The county could now purchase more gravel pits or buy conservation easements on land the public cannot use nor see, possibly in some adjacent county.
Of one thing you can be sure, this level of income has now been ratcheted up and future budgets will be based on this increased “need”.
Since arriving in Vail more than 20 years ago, a constant problem facing this town and now the county has been affordable housing. The problem never goes away. Raising real estate taxes inordinately only makes the problem worse. The cost of owning a house goes up, the cost of renting will go up and the cost of attracting employees to the county will go up, thus justifying yet another round of taxes to meet this increased need.
I am particularly disappointed that after our recent town and county elections we end up with this result. Unless the courts find this action in violation of the TABOR amendment, the only action I think responsible citizens can take is at the ballot box. I, for one, will not vote for a single incumbent at the town or county level unless he/she can demonstrate they opposed this tax grab. I hope others will act accordingly.