Vail Valley Voices: What life quality do we want? |

Vail Valley Voices: What life quality do we want?

Eagle County voters will face a handful of ballot issues on our mail-in ballot in November. Be sure to register for a mail ballot – you will only be sent a ballot if you voted by mail in the past or are on the mail-ballot list. The ballot is full of a variety of local, county and state issues.

Consider what you want your community to look like as you consider the various issues. Let’s accept the general premise that no one likes tax increases, especially in an uncertain economy.

But before you knee-jerk react by voting no down the line, it’s time to quit the political posturing on both sides and candidly talk about what we expect from local government and what we want our community to look like.

I’d suggest we model our community after our world-class resorts. Frankly, there isn’t any help coming from the state. And we’ll have less help from the state moving forward.

That results in local ballot issues to raise our mill levies or sales taxes to support our local entities and local community to create a world-class community to match our resorts.

Vail Resorts continues (rightly) to invest in their products, from new lifts to new restaurants to new marketing infrastructure. We, as a community, should follow this example of leadership and invest in our community by supporting the school district and fire protection district mill levies.

You can argue that, much like private industry, that government can cut expenses to fix the problem. That’s well and fine, except they have done this to a large extent already.

Staff levels, both in the administrative offices and the classroom, have been cut drastically the past few years. Services and infrastructure including busses and computers have been delayed. Merit pay has been in place since before it was popular. In fact, other districts are looking to Eagle County as a case study of how to implement this model. Look closely and you’ll see our school district already models private industry.

Strong public schools are an investment not only in our children, but in our local economy.

Eagle County’s recent Economic Development Plan spotlighted learning and education as a pillar of our economic growth. Can you afford to invest less than $8 per month in your community ($92 a year on a $500,000 home)? Better yet, can you afford not to?

The ballot language requires this money to be spent in the classroom, on teachers, support staff and on the cuts that have already taken place over the past three years – and it is worded to protect taxpayers, as it is capped to only replace lost state funding.

It’s a question of community, and a strong public school system is essential to a strong community.

Similarly, the Eagle River Fire Protection District has a mill levy on the ballot to support their operations and to continue to provide world-class service to the community equal to our world-class resorts. This essential service begs the question of what we want from our municipal services – low taxes or world-class services?

We are home to world-class resorts. I’d like to have a world-class community to match it. Don’t punish our local entities due to the irresponsible behavior from Washington or due to partisan politics. Consider what type of community you’d like to live in and vote “yes” to support our schools and fire district when you vote this fall.

Chris Romer, of Eagle-Vail, is speaking here as a private citizen, as the Vail Valley Partnership where he works does not take stances on candidates or ballot issues.

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