Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Not aboard ‘ruination’ without school district tax hike |

Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Not aboard ‘ruination’ without school district tax hike

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

Going back to 2007 funding levels spells ruination for the school district? We must increase the property tax to maintain boom-time revenue in a downturn or else our children are finished forever? Really?

Hmmmm. Looks like I’m to the right of solid conservative friends who doubt global warming and maybe evolution, too, but earnestly believe that only doom awaits Eagle County Schools if it must adjust to today’s reality.

I stand accused of losing my heart. I wonder if they’ve lost their minds. Being to the right of them on anything is a very strange position indeed.

What happened to “throwing money at schools won’t improve education,” “government must live within its means” and “Americans have to learn fiscal discipline”?

The school district is different from our other essential services? Are firefighters, police, builders of roads and bridges, architects, bankers, lawyers, health care professionals, certified public accountants, engineers, planners and so on less crucial than K-12 educators to our society?

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I agree with the author’s point in a recent Valley Voices about considering what kind of community we want. He argues for public education as the top priority, and therefore investing in a tax increase that does not end when our property values rise again makes the most sense to him.

I believe the healthiest community runs in balance. When tax revenue drops with property values and income – that is, with the economic blows to those who pay these taxes – should we adjust that balance?

That’s the core of the question under all the measures awaiting us in November to raise taxes.

It’s also at the core of our basic philosophies about government’s proper role. My natural instinct is that government revenue should rise and fall within our means of funding it.

I’m also mindful that in this state, commercial property owners pay a lot more and at a lot higher tax rate than residential owners do. So the consequence to business is direct.

I happen to be centrist, and I believe there are good reasons to invest. So the statewide sales tax that sunsets in five years and deals more squarely with the current drop in state funding makes more sense to me than this open-ended property tax increase.

I can see plugging a gap in funding temporarily, as the statewide education and local fire tax bids would do.

I’m just not buying the ruination argument. Not with every business, nonprofit and essential municipality under the same thumb.

I’m with reality here. The district can learn to cope, and frankly it must.

Like the rest of us.

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