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Tax hits could force changes

Debbie Buckley

During the morning session of the Eagle Board of County Commissioners meeting on Feb. 5, Eagle County Treasurer Karen Sheaffer gave the commissioners a report on our investment income. As an elected official, the county treasurer is responsible for the collection and distribution of property taxes in compliance with Colorado statutes. The treasurer does NOT determine the amount of tax to be collected.

The treasurer also serves as the banker and investment officer for all of YOUR money that is sitting in the county coffers. During her recent report to the commissioners, Karen reported that the cash balance has dropped $2.4 million during the past year.

Tax payments are off for the month of January as compared to previous years. Now don’t misunderstand this: We still have investments and are not broke, but the trend is disturbing. There has been an increase in the county’s tax roll of 26 percent but revenues are down? Could it be that people are not paying as quickly because they are still stunned by their recent tax bill?

A teacher in Gypsum is considering a part-time job because her mortgage payment went up by $110 dollars. She pays her property taxes monthly as part of her mortgage payment. She used to have housing she could afford, but her house has become unaffordable.

A retired couple in Edwards had their mortgage payment increased by $200 per month because of the taxes. They have lived here a long time, but may consider moving to Garfield County if this upward trend of property tax increases is not stopped. Like most people, they understand reasonable increases, the cost of living goes up and employees should get raises, but this is too big of a hit in one year.

A business owner in Avon has to raise prices, though he is reluctant to do this because he is concerned the locals will go to the big chain store instead of the locally owned business. A senior citizen in Eagle who has lived here 45 years is not sure she can pay her monthly bills with the tax hit and is considering moving to Grand Junction.

According to the people who attended the first meeting of the Eagle County Property Taxpayers for Common Sense last Friday, these are not unusual stories. In the rush to turn this into one big city where wealth is forcibly redistributed from up valley to down valley, the regular people are the ones taking the biggest hit. The regular people like teachers, public safety officers, small-business owners, retirees who have lived here for many years and construction workers are concerned about paying their monthly bills.

I suggest the people who want to fix the county with our tax money start by redistributing their own money and leave the middle class alone. It will not be as fun as spending someone else’s money, but you can still meet your goals. Why not start a nonprofit and help subsidize housing and childcare for the have-nots with your own money instead of dipping into the pockets of the middle class, working families who are already struggling? Or get more involved with some of the wonderful nonprofits that we already have in Eagle County, like the Vail Valley Charitable Fund or the Salvation Army. A nonprofit is always more efficient than government, because they are not bogged down with all the rules and endless studies that are part of government.

The good news from Karen Sheaffer is that foreclosures are as low as they have been in four years. I wonder what foreclosures will look like in our county by the end of 2008?

Debbie Buckley is a former Avon Town councilor. E-mail comments to editor@vailtrail.com.


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