Taxpayers group questions goverment spending in Eagle County, elsewhere |

Taxpayers group questions goverment spending in Eagle County, elsewhere

How much is enough?

They will never say. Politicians are always putting new taxes on the ballot, and many people vote for them without questioning: How much more will they ask for next year? How much is enough? Is there any limit to the amount of taxes these politicians will demand of us?

When asked to consider this, several people have responded with statements like, “What does it matter, you get it all back in services!” What a crock. This prompts several more questions we hope everyone will ponder before voting for more taxes and tax-loving politicians like commissioner candidates Peter Runyon and Jon Stavney or congressional candidates Christine Scanlan and Mark Udall.

To assume you really do “get it all back” requires that you know what “it all” is. Most people likely have no idea how much they pay in taxes each year because it’s virtually impossible to determine or even to identify all the taxes each of us pays. The taxes we can see are income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, capital gains taxes and taxes on dividends, interest and more. We also pay taxes and fees for the electricity we use, taxes and fees on natural gas, taxes and fees on telephone services, taxes and fees on gasoline and diesel and more.

Government “fees” are just another form of taxation ” taxes by any other name empty your wallet just the same. Capital gains taxes are taxes on income generated by money that’s already been taxed. Some politicians want to raise these taxes still higher! It’s time we all started asking, how much is enough?

Let’s consider what we might actually get back locally from all our “investments” of property taxes, sales taxes, tap fees and permit fees:

– Our current Board of County Commissioners reportedly has spent more than $300,000 to Xeriscape the county building grounds. The grass and plants surrounding the building are being torn out and replaced with rocks, all to save $1,800 per year in water. The sod that was removed was given away, which means it will be reused and still require irrigation, so any environmental concerns for saving water are a wash. We already paid to landscape the grounds initially; now we’re paying to undo that work just to spend more of the taxpayers’ money to do something different. Taxpayers get nothing from this.

– Some $80,000 in taxpayers’ money reportedly was spent to repave a stretch of bike path for the pleasure of Commissioner Menconi and pals.

– More than $275,000 to outfit a government-owned and -operated cable TV station and about a quarter million dollars every year to staff it, when such resources already exist in the private sector, making ECOtv, at best, redundant. Why is government competing with businesses, and what do taxpayers get back from this expenditure?

– The county recently committed us taxpayers to a $4.5 million investment in so-called “affordable housing” at Stratton Flats in Gypsum. The county commissioners proceeded with this plan despite the subprime real estate meltdown. Since the target market for this government housing can’t get loans, and the subprime lending market isn’t likely to pick up where it left off (i.e., taxpayers holding the trillion dollar bag), it’s hard to say where buyers for these properties will come from. But the Eagle County taxpayers are on the hook for $4.5 million, so damn the torpedoes, it’s other people’s money anyway.

– The latest boondoggle is the government-housing store, established to broker sales for the county’s affordable-housing developments. So now, in addition to competing with local real estate developers by getting into the business of real estate development, the county government is also possibly competing with Realtors by becoming its own real estate broker ” all at taxpayer expense. This is not the role of government! Not in this country. How much more of this are we willing to accept? How much is enough? Help to protect our seniors and others on fixed incomes by voting for candidates who will uphold and defend the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

Affordable housing

The Eagle County Board of County Commissioners feels it is its “duty” to provide affordable housing. Forget for the moment that it is not the obligation of any government in this country to provide everyone with the means to buy a home or to make homes affordable for everyone. Forget that “affordable” does not have the same meaning elsewhere in the country. For now, just consider their objective.

Homes in Eagle County are expensive; too expensive for most incomes to afford without some prior planning, saving and investing. People from all over the country move here to work and play, perhaps without realizing the economic realities of living in a high-end resort community. The immediate gratification of owning a home here may simply not be possible without first building some wealth, and that process may have to begin elsewhere for them, just as it did for the rest of us.

Businesses need employees, and some responsible employers already provide employee housing or a housing stipend, but most do not, including many of the county’s largest employers. Some of these businesses are leveraging the county to provide employee housing for them, all at taxpayer expense, and the current BoCC is all too eager to comply.

To that end, the BoCC is aggressively pursuing the development of so-called “affordable housing.” Working with private-sector developers to offer deed-restricted affordable housing is not new to Eagle County, but this time, the county government IS the developer and the realtor! This should not be acceptable to anyone.

The BoCC continued with its plans for affordable housing despite the subprime real estate meltdown. Eagle County taxpayers are now stuck with this commitment in an economic environment where potential buyers of these affordable homes cannot get loans. Those hurt by purchasing securitized subprime mortgages on the secondary market were misled by false claims of low risk. However, the BoCC’s decision to go forward despite market conditions is far more damning. That they are continuing on this same path even today is reckless beyond belief.

The economy is in the tank, people’s investments are suffering, homeowners are still recovering from this year’s property tax hike, lending is tight or nonexistent, heating fuel prices are on the rise, real estate sales are down 50 percent from where they were last year although assessed property valuations are still increasing, and the county’s solution is to increase spending and debt and freeze its mill levy (again), thus ensuring our property taxes will continue to rise so they can subsidize affordable housing that no one can buy. Am I missing something?

Corporate tax

Politicians asking for higher taxes also want to increase taxes on corporations. This is a fool’s errand because corporations treat taxes and fees like any other expense ” it’s all part of the cost of doing business, and those costs get passed directly to the consumer in the price of the goods and services we buy.

Certainly, corporations do send checks to the IRS, but the money to pay those taxes and fees is supplied by consumers. Corporations do not pay taxes! Consumers pay them all. Taxing corporations is just another way for politicians to conceal the actual amount of taxes shouldered by all consumers. The only thing dumber than corporate taxes is the notion of imposing an even higher, so-called “windfall tax,” on select businesses. This is just more foolish, feel-good legislation deflecting public anger at a scapegoat and away from the real culprits: Congress.

If our governments increase corporate taxes and impose enough fees and obstacles, businesses will be forced to reduce their employees’ pay or benefits, cut the number of employees, move elsewhere, or they may close their doors, thereby eliminating all the taxes the government collected from those once gainfully employed taxpayers. Brilliant!

Every time we purchase something, we all pay numerous hidden taxes.

Manufacturers pay taxes and fees for the energy they consume to produce and deliver their goods; they pay property taxes for the real estate they occupy; corporate taxes and fees just to exist; and they pay accountants and bookkeepers and lawyers to administer it all. All of these taxes and fees and expenses are included in the price we pay at the register, and then we’re taxed again at the point of sale. We are paying taxes on taxes! How much is enough?

If politicians hike taxes on energy, heating fuel, electricity and gasoline, that increased tax expense is passed on in the price consumers pay. The cost of heating fuel is estimated to increase by 8 percent to 12 percent this winter (down from earlier estimates of 20 percent to 30 percent), yet some politicians still want to increase fuel taxes!

Gov. Ritter has already increased taxes with a new automobile registration fee. At the same time, they have cut state funding for education, foisting over $8 million in added expenses on Eagle County so state legislators can spend that money elsewhere. All of these taxes are buried in all our monthly bills or obscured within our property taxes.

Can someone please tell me exactly how much money it will take to satisfy the politicians? Is there any limit to the amount of taxes our governments will demand of us? When is enough, enough? Our state and local politicians have been preparing us to expect higher property taxes, more new fees and higher mill levies. Let’s thank them by voting NO on all Amendments proposing new taxes and tax increases. Help to protect our seniors and others on fixed incomes by voting for candidates who will uphold and defend the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. See our Tax Pledge at:

Please send your donations to Eagle County Taxpayers for Common Sense:

C/o Dick and Mary Jo Froberg, P.O. Box 1469, Edwards, CO 81632.

Buddy Shipley represents the views of the Eagle County Taxpayers for Common Sense: Marshall Gordon, Buddy Shipley, Dick Froberg, Mary Jo Froberg and all the members of their newly formed steering committee.

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