Just one question

The Salida School District R-32-J Board of Education will be making a decision later this month on whether or not to put a question before voters to join the Colorado Mountain College taxing district at a cost to taxpayers of 3.997 mills.

At the same time the board could also ask voters to approve a roughly $25 million bond issue and a 6.1-mill levy for classrooms for both the school district and for the college.

The board could also opt to not put any question before voters, but we don’t see this happening. The board and district officials have invested considerable time into prepping voters for joining the CMC district and adding a new school building.

Putting both questions on the ballot would mean the district would not have to go back to voters in a year or two to decide on a building. It would also result in estimated savings of $1.5 million given annual, ongoing increases in construction costs.

Having both questions on the ballot, however, would be asking voters to approve what amounts to a 10-mill property tax levy.

For a residential property, at about $70 per $100,000 in assessed value, a $300,000 home would see a tax increase of about $210. At about $290 per $100,000 in assessed value, commercial property valued at $500,000, would see a $1,450 increase.

In addition, without considering the two tax issues, taxpayers are also facing a substantial hike in property values resulting from reassessment.

Given what taxpayers are facing with the two mill levy questions and the increase in property valuations, the board should simply ask voters one question: whether or not to join the CMC district.

It’s straightforward, simpler than asking two questions and would mean a much lower increase in property owners’ tax.

Yes, it would delay construction of a new building, but voters are more likely to approve a smaller increase asking a specific, direct question than they are a far more expensive, complex issue.

— MJB

Respect all residents

Salida City Council members Dan Shore, Cheryl Brown-Kovacic and Harald Kasper have all made statements recently directed toward a “group” of Salidans who have criticized city government.

“Special interest groups with narrow world views have been a problem,” Mr. Shore said.

“There is a small but vocal anti-government group in the city,” Ms. Brown-Kovacic said.

Mr. Kasper supported the city’s new CORA policy, saying he thinks a group in town has been abusing the open records process and making it so it isn’t sustainable for the city.

“I feel there has been an overuse of this important right,” Mr. Kasper said.

These council members are currently using council chairs as a podium to beat alarmist drums that there is a “group” out to damage city government.

That’s a problem.

Council members have the advantage over the public in that they have a stage during every meeting in which they can talk about a person or group of people who are critical of them. There are no time limits to their discussion and no allowances for a rebuttal from the “group” or person.

This is distinctly unfair to the person who only gets three minutes at the beginning of a meeting to speak their mind.

Council members should be mindful of the way they treat people.

Good leaders respect the freedoms of even those whose thoughts are opposed to theirs.

Council members need to remember they serve all city residents, even those who are critical of city policies and actions.

– PJG