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Re: Things to make you even smarter

That was a nice feature on Colorado (Aug. 1-7), but a very important person was overlooked: Dr. Florence Rena Sabin (1871-1953), Colorado’s first choice to be its state honoree in the U. S. capital for her work as a distinguished teacher, scientist, humanitarian, writer and for her work in drafting the Sabin Health Laws, which modernized Colorado’s public health system. Dr. Sabin’s statue can be found in National Statuary Hall. I hope this information makes you and your readers “smarter and more interesting.”

Charlotte Plotsky, Vail

While I listened last Thursday at the third public meeting of the Eagle County Taxpayers for Common Sense, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, I wondered if anyone in the room really got the message. Was it to sue the taxing authorities due to old unconstitutional ballot issues, or to attend their board meetings and ask for lower mill levies in 2008 and beyond, or was it just too hard to do and better to move to Arizona or Mexico?

After an hour of public information by local attorney, Rohn Robbins, and questions, I settled on attending as many of the nine board meetings on my tax notice as I can manage to request lowering the mill levies, which will decrease my 2008 property taxes payable in 2009. For those interested, the complete schedule of Board meetings is found at http://www.ectaxpayer.org. Click on “Eagle County Taxing Authorities/District Board Meetings.”

Of further interest were comments by Mark Chapin, our county assessor, who said we now have 82 Taxing Authorities instead of the old number of 79 reported in Feb 2008. He reported residential total sales are down by 40-50 percent from last year, but the residential sale prices are up. I feel this will mean in 2009 we can expect an increase in the two-year residential assessed property valuations, resulting in higher property taxes payable in 2010. The only way out is for our neighbors who serve on boards and districts to lower their mill levies!

There was good news too. Beaver Creek Metro District, one of the 43 de-Bruced taxing authorities under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, did lower their mill levy by 4.786 mills in 2007. That resulted in only a 6 percent property tax revenue increase for their friends and neighbors in 2008. Exactly what did the Beaver Creek Metro District understand that the other 42 boards don’t get? Thirty-nine taxing authorities who come under TABOR and the 5.5-percent annual levy law seem to be operating just fine in 2008 with no defaults, shutdowns, or cash flow shortages to run their Eagle County programs!

So how much extra windfall property tax revenue money do taxing authorities really need to operate? I recommend taxpayers attend some board meetings and ask one simple question. How much cash is stashed in your reserve and emergency funds? Taxpayers aren’t going to like some of the answers.

Buddy Sims, Edwards

For those of you who may have missed it, there was a memorial for Earl Eaton on Saturday. It was a perfect ceremony.

There was lots of crying, and laughing. For Earl was not only a loveable character, he was funny, with a dry sense of humor that made those of us who were fortunate enough to know him think about our lives in relation to his. While many of us were trying to figure out a way to achieve fame and fortune, Earl was on the mountain skiing. Right now, I would love to trade the hours I have spent in cars and planes for his on the slopes.

There is one story I forgot to relate at the memorial. Earl knew I could get grumpy about too much growth and development so in one of our conversations he looked at me and said, “You know, we weren’t worried about too much growth, the valley was so narrow.” Then he paused for a second, and said with a grin, “but we forgot how long the valley is.”

I don’t think Earl ever questioned a yard of concrete that was poured, or a pile of sticks that turned into a grand trophy mansion. When he was a boy he walked home to a cold, log cabin from a cold one-room school house up Squaw Creek on 20 degree below days frequently enough, and had seen cow chasing through the rain and snow often enough to think there must be a better life. He found that life in what is Vail today and he was largely responsible for creating it.

I may not agree with Earl about all this, but I respect his view. And I respect and love his soul, which was pure. Who of us can say we knew what we wanted from the beginning and went there, and stayed there for 80 some years?

Earl’s soul is the soul of this valley. I hope we never forget that and the example he set.

Roger Brown


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