Authors: J.B. McCoy & Mark Brennan After publishing our Backbone voter guide with skeptical comments about Centennial's home rule plan and council insiders, I have received a number of notes supporting that skepticism. Here are two of the best:
Home Rule proposal contradicts original Centennial vision By J.B. McCoy
Is there any point in spending any time, energy or money trying to defeat the Centennial Home Rule initiative? I see little public opposition to it-- just slick advertising paid for, no doubt, with our tax dollars, at the urging of current Centennial politicians. I don't want to waste time on it if it's a losing battle. I may be wrong, but my view of Centennial & Home Rule is this:
1) A few years ago, we had a new layer of government (Centennial) foisted on us out of a reactionary fear that Greenwood Village was going to "cost us something" by annexing Retail tax base
2) That new city government has been primarily responsible in raising our sales taxes from 3.85% to 6.85% after promising they only needed a 1.5% increase.
3) Centennial continues to do what government always does - growing without bounds -- and now wants to provide the opportunity for 21 more lawyers and aspiring politicians to determine our future through a Home Rule Charter Commission.
4) Home Rule will double the paperwork burden for small businesses dealing with sales tax reporting and will undoubtedly increase the size of our city bureaucracy.
5) Centennial should be held to its original promise of small government instead of empire-building and trying to compete in complexity and reach with cities of similar size.
I don't know if there's any point spending time trying to defeat it though. Most of the voters basically asked for this (more government) when they voted to create this city, and I don't know if there is significant voter support to hold government growth in check.
Habig-Moon race reveals city's identity crisis By Mark Brennan
I have resided in what is now Ward 1 of Centennial since 1994. I opposed incorporation of Centennial because I did not believe the nonsense offered by its proponents that incorporation would result in only a "modest" 1% sales tax increase from our blessedly low 3.8%. I instead believed the many experts in municipal governance who insisted a tax increase of at least 2.5% would be necessary.
Since services would, at best, remain the same, incorporation seemed not only pointless, but a serious financial detriment. I also surmised that incorporation was being pushed and financed by Tech Center commercial interests who wished to avoid regulation by Greenwood Village. It struck me as remarkably coincidental that an attorney for important real estate interests in the Tech Center was instrumental in the incorporation campaign.
Unfortunately, the majority of the population (who bothered to vote) were persuaded to support incorporation. After incorporation, it quickly became apparent that proponents had indeed misled voters concerning the tax rate required. We are now saddled with a 6.3% tax rate.
We are paying far more taxes, but receiving nothing meaningful in return. For a very long period, we actually suffered from significantly less police protection than we enjoyed prior to incorporation! Then, once the municipal court opened, we were beset with constant harassment by Sheriff's deputies who had obviously been told to write more tickets in order to generate more revenue.
Your paper describes Betty Ann Habig as "divisive". This is an unfair characterization by those, such as Randy Pye, who fear she may be a much-needed alternative voice on the council, rather than a passive, easily manipulated non-entity.
I have often disagreed with Betty Ann, including with respect to incorporation. Yet, in dealing with her as a constituent on a number of vexing issues, I always found her to be very thoughtful, courteous, and responsive to my concerns.
Her alleged "divisiveness" is more fairly characterized as an admirable tendency to insist upon fiscal restraint, and ask tough questions of those who would rather work their will without interference from pesky constituents who don't know what is best for them.
Pye and his compadres naturally prefer a rubber-stamp council, but they have yet to fulfill any of the airy promises they made to achieve incorporation. They attempt to take credit for the Southglenn redevelopment, but that is a commercial enterprise that would have occurred with or without their involvement. (Sadly, increased sales taxes due to incorporation deprived Centennial businesses of what was once a significant competitive advantage, and contributed to Southglenn's demise.)
Vorry Moon may well be a decent fellow. I really have no basis upon which to judge his performance. To the best of my recollection, he has never responded in any meaningful way to a single communication I initiated with him concerning my problems or concerns.
I will vote for Habig, confident that, in her, I will have real representation on the City Council, someone I can count on to take constituent concerns seriously, and act upon them. That is the quintessence of representative government.