Tom Edwards: County on track with housing |

Tom Edwards: County on track with housing

Two years ago, I ran for Eagle County Commissioner with the goal of having a balance between the needs of the county and the cost of those needs. Today, we should be concerned that we don’t overreact to the one-note anti-tax theme and create an imbalance that handicaps Eagle County, an imbalance that could hamper infrastructure repair and improvements, undo some of the county’s progress toward affordable housing, set back efforts toward responsible land use and endanger protection of the scenic environment.

County commissioner candidate Dick Gustafson says he can hold the line on taxes to the TABOR limitation. Can he hold down the 18 percent per-year rise in asphalt prices or the spiraling gas prices? We need responsible spending and we’d all like to pay fewer taxes, but why would Dick pursue returning to TABOR restrictions when the citizens of Eagle County already voted to remove them? Does he understand that TABOR does not just apply to property taxes? TABOR limits the government revenue growth and therefore limits sales tax income as well. That includes the portion of sales tax that is paid by visitors and offsets their impacts on the county.

Dick Gustafson continues to make attacks on affordable housing when most would agree it is one of the pressing needs in Eagle County.

The county has made efforts to tackle the affordable housing issue through the citizens’ Blue Ribbon Housing Panel and the Housing Action Team. Stratton Flats, which Dick continues to attack, is a result of Housing Action Team and a collaboration between the developer, Eagle County and Gypsum. At Stratton Flats, the county is helping finance housing as an equity partner instead of buying or subsidizing housing and has a reasonable expectation that its investment will be repaid and available for reinvestment in future housing.

So what is this all about? It is about re-electing Peter Runyon as our county commissioner. Peter is the candidate with experience in the current climate of Eagle County, not a candidate who last ran 20 years ago. Peter led the formation of the Housing Action Team and county support for affordable housing. He is working for solutions to improve the services and infrastructure of Eagle County along with ways to lower taxes for full-time residents), he has taken the lead in the pine beetle efforts and has worked to help create a land swap in the valley that not only protects valuable view sheds, but will provide public access. Peter has backed the “Home Store,” which uses current revenue, with no additional county funding, to serve ALL the towns and unincorporated areas for the cost of what was previously serving county areas alone.

We have the opportunity to vote for someone whose major concern is the future and well-being of Eagle County or his opponent, whose main purpose is to reduce the mill levy and cut taxes regardless of the effect on the needs of Eagle County. It’s your choice. My vote is for progress and responsibility; I’m voting for Peter Runyon.

Tom Edwards is an Gypsum resident. E-mail comments about this column to

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