Vail Daily letter: Public funding is confusing
Vail, CO, Colorado
Recently, the town of Vail approved additional funding for renovation of the town library to the tune of $350,000. This is in addition to the original estimates and previous increase in allocation of funding. According to the Town Council, the money will come from “tax increment financing” — which apparently is from property taxes and the new housing units Lionshead built.
Besides the fact that I thought property taxes were down in light of our recent recession, this approval of funding comes after the county announced severe cut backs in school funding, which will result in the loss of many teaching positions during the next school year.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t additional funding seem superfluous? And where did this “extra” money just come from? Let me put this into perspective.
Over the last five years, we’ve seen the jailhouse renovated, Battle Mountain High School rebuilt and numerous jobs lost during the process. To this day, half of the jail remains closed and is currently understaffed because we do not have the budget. Numerous people lost their jobs or were forced to take an “early retirement,” which really amounted to about six months of pay. The same is true for the new high school in Edwards.
We built a brand new school that included green improvements in hopes to cut the cost of utilities and reduce our collective impact upon the environment. However, our students are forced to take what is called “furlough days” due to a lack of, or dare I say “a misappropriation of funding”?
Let’s be real here, just for a moment, mind you. Do we really need to make improvements to the Vail library in light of recent staff cuts in our school?
What good will this do? Will we be able to appropriately staff the library once it is renovated? Will the library include new books that will hopefully augment our children’s education and offset the loss of vital teachers in our schools? Will it include programs that facilitate our children’s learning and keep them safe and out of trouble when their home on their furlough days?
So, why are we really re-appropriating more for the renovation of the library? Here’s the zinger – for fear it might look “cheap” according to both Greg Hall, public works director, and Town Manager Stan Zemler. Really? We have a fear that the library will look “cheap?” This combined with the fear that we may not have the ability to fund this project for years is enough reason to lay off staff from our schools and force our children to take unnecessary days off from school? I’m saddened that this is what our community has been reduced to thinking. The mere idea that we might look cheap has driven our teachers and students out of school, forced layoffs and cut backs in our jail.
Editor’s note: The Eagle County School District, Eagle County government and town of Vail are separate government entities that do not commingle funding. Each operates within the laws governing their individual jurisdictions, along with managing the revenue that legally is earmarked for each of them.
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