Shortly after 9-11, the Vail Town Council, fearing a fall-off in people traveling and taking vacations, directed the town staff to cut the town’s budget by 10 percent. The staff adjusted the budget, the council approved the adjusted budget and during 2002 the town’s operations absorbed the cuts with little or no impact on the services the town delivered. I bring this up the context of the various tax increase initiatives on the ballot to make the point that our local governments, while responsible, don’t run such a fiscally tight ship that they can’t find money for important initiatives. The money is there, it’s just a matter of finding it. Make no mistake, the county needs to spend a sizable chunk of change on early childhood programs. All of the arguments that the 1A proponents make in favor of spending more money on early childhood programs are valid. Here’s the problem: We don’t need to vote a tax increase on ourselves to accomplish those objectives. The county spills more money than 1A seeks to raise. If a majority of the commissioners possessed the political will to implement those programs, they would already be underway. All it takes is budgeting the early childhood programs and exercising greater financial discipline in other areas of county spending. This presents the commissioners with hard choices and the county staff with hard work. They will have to actually find fat in the budget (it’s there), and then choose early childhood programs rather than someone else’s favorite spending program.The bottom line: The county doesn’t need more money. It needs more discipline and the political will to exercise that discipline. Consequently, I ask that you vote NO on 1A. Don’t give the county more money, they don’t need it, they already have enough. Instead, write or call your county commissioners and tell them that they need to make early childhood initiatives a priority. Insist that they find the funding in the existing, ever-growing county revenue stream. Ross OttoVailVail, Colorado
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