Letter: Mental health tax not needed; vote no on recreational marijuana tax increase
October 27, 2017
Who could possibly object to spending county money on helping to prevent kids from committing suicide? Not anyone I know.
Having said that, the only question that remains is how to fund spending a reasonable amount of money to help do that. Our elected officials have their usual answer — raise taxes in perpetuity!
I, of course, have my usual answer: Find the money in the current budget to pay for it.
• Fact: The county has approximately $27,623,270 in its general reserve fund and approximately $25 million in roughly 21 individual government reserve funds, according to new county Finance Director Jill Klosterman. Doing the math, the county appears to have approximately $52,623,270 in reserve funds, which makes the case for not needing a tax increase even stronger. Surely the county can find $1.2 million for mental health with all this money in reserves!
• Fact: Officials aren't asking for a new tax with a sunset. They want a tax in perpetuity.
• Fact: Chris Lindley, public health director, admitted that this may not be the only tax the county will be asking for. He spoke of a potential bond for the buildings. He glossed over it like there would be no TABOR tax increase election. I called him on it. He then understood there would have to be another taxpayer vote if a bond was used. There were plenty of witnesses!
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• Sheriff James van Beek said that the county (taxpayers) would be providing land they own in Edwards and Basalt for the facilities, and they hope a private partnership will build the buildings. So, why would a possible future bond be needed? Sheriff van Beek said conversations he's had about this don't indicate a bond would be needed but said anything is possible.
• We need a specific commitment in writing from the partners. Where is it? All they are committing to is to run a capital campaign to raise money. What if they don't raise enough money? Right now, it seems to be all talk. Why would we vote to increase our taxes without a specific, in-writing commitment from the private partners? Who does business like that?
Also, with the land already paid for by the taxpayers, and with approximately $52 million in various reserve funds, why would it require a tax in perpetuity? Why should taxpayers be on the hook for an endless tax with no sunset and opportunity to renew, if it's working? Who does business like that?
It always feels good to help kids. But new taxes are not necessary to help them. With parents sometimes working multiple jobs to pay for our high cost of living, some parents cannot find time necessary to spend with their kids. Adding more taxes adds more stress to parents and adds to our already high cost of living.
Just vote "no" on this mental-health marijuana tax increase, and make the county come up with a guaranteed commitment from private partnerships and a plan that can be funded out of the regular county budget, without a tax increase. Surely the county can pay for this out of our reserves, or else they can cut money spent on frivolous things to regularly fund this priority.
One more thing: Raising taxes to 20 percent for retail marijuana only helps to encourage underground drug cartels in Colorado. Remember, drug cartels don't collect taxes for the government, do they?
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