Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Put first things first with bids for tax hikes |

Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Put first things first with bids for tax hikes

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

I don’t doubt the logic in each of our sackful of ballot requests to raise taxes. They all make sense.

I’m just surprised that more of the governments under siege by the economy haven’t come to the polls with their hands out. Next year?

Each measure asks for only a tiny bit more. A grain of sand, really. We pay so little now, right? Surely we can afford a little extra pile of grains.

We who have lost 6,000 jobs, hit record foreclosure proceedings on our properties, still pay among the highest mortgages and rents in the land, maybe closed our businesses and/or took pay cuts.

The schools, fire districts, towns, county all need more funding, no question. So do the chambers, the hospital, the builders, Realtors, shops, lodges, restaurants, mom pops, professionals. And the nonprofits, rec districts, and who have I left out?

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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

And the nation faces a possible double-dip on our recession that hasn’t yet let go of our region.

Our valley is a notorious boom-and-bust community — more boom than bust for the past 30 years. We got used to boom-time revenue and service. Now we can’t survive without it. Except that we must.

In the long run, sure, schools with a good reputation help. But the pre-2007 system didn’t hold back the remarkable economic and population surge here since the 1980s. And the pre-boom fire service didn’t hold back construction.

Have we forgotten where the money came from? It doesn’t make the most sense to me to increase the burden on our most vulnerable neighbors or business community now.

The sooner the businesses community does well, the sooner success will ripple through the rest of the valley, although the complications of state funding of the schools make this a less direct tie to our valley’s trends.

The deeper issue, especially for the schools, has to do with the state tax reform amendment known as Tabor. That reckoning does loom.

There are good reasons for asking the taxpayers to invest a little more in our essential services. It’s the timing I question. Do we mean to reach for boom-time taxation in a bust to keep the services up, or do we focus more on easing the load for those who must pay these taxes, even by grains?

I don’t suggest this is an easy question. It goes right to the heart of conservative vs. liberal fiscal views about governance. We all should be thinking hard.

I’ve tilted toward the taxpayer burden while we’re still down, and am more primed toward services if support lags in recovery.

First things first. I believe that’s the proper balance.

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