Local Government

RTD tax hike? Clapp no, Sharpe maybe

Nancy Sharpe and Lauri Clapp both bring a fiscally conservative resume to the GOP primary for Arapahoe County commissioner, District 2. But when asked about RTD's upcoming tax-increase proposal at the Republican breakfast club on April 7, Greenwood Village Mayor Sharpe answered vaguely and left the door open, whereas former State Rep. Clapp answered in one word: "No." Sharpe's answer, expressing sympathy with her colleagues among the metro mayors who are counting on FasTracks being built as promised, even it takes higher taxes, reflected a government person's viewpoint. Clapp's reflected a taxpayer viewpoint and could give her an edge in the upcoming summer of fiscal fear and loathing, leading up to the Aug. 10 primary.

These aren't ordinary times. Freedom is near the tipping point. At every level of government, even a frontline service-delivery level such as this big suburban county, we need not just routine competency but fierce determination to force the tax-and-spend-and-borrowing beast back into its cage. As I said in my nominating speech for Lauri Clapp at the county assembly yesterday:

These are dark times for the form of self-government we cherish. We need our best team on the field. That's why I urge your support for my friend, my trusted legislative ally, and my fellow fighting conservative, Lauri Clapp, as our nominee for county commissioner. At this testing time, we need proven conservative leaders who can head off fiscal disaster and defeat progressive socialism. It all starts with local government. This is ground zero. We need a commissioner with the toughness, the principle, and the backbone of Lauri Clapp. She will guard the gate for taxpayers, jobs, and quality of life in this county.

Will Nancy Sharpe guard that gate? I don't know. She might or might not. But I am sure Lauri Clapp will.

No to corporate welfare in Aurora

As the Aurora City Council prepares to vote on a highly questionable real estate subsidy Monday night, I have lent my voice to a robo-call opposing the deal. Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government paid for the recorded message to 67,000 households on Thursday. Here is the text of that message, along with a more detailed statement from the citizens group. ROBO-CALL MESSAGE: This is former Senate President John Andrews. Like you, I’m concerned when government at any level spends tax dollars recklessly and overreaches its proper functions. The Aurora City Council is about to do just that, subsidizing a private real estate development with an urban blight designation on ranch land to the tune of millions of dollars the city doesn’t have. This has been labeled a bad risk by the city’s own consultants. It could be a disaster for taxpayers. Please urge the city council to vote down the Lend Lease Project on March 8. Paid for Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government. Statement by Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government Contact: Greg Golyansky 720.201.8789 or Almaz9713@aol.com

On Monday, March 8th, at 7:30 PM, the Aurora City council will be voting on a measure that would approve a Tax Increment Financing designation for the Lend Lease Horizon Uptown development, in east Aurora.

This vote will decide whether the raw ranch land will be "blighted" under the "urban renewal" state statutes. In addition our group of small government activist is trying to stop the Aurora City Government from subsidizing a private real estate development. If the Aurora Government is allowed to get away with this, then in due time they will be forced to increase taxes on all of the city's residents or face a major economic calamity.

According to the report written by the city’s BBC consultants, the project is not economically viable, risky and is based on overly optimistic assumptions. The new properties, if built, will, therefore, have to be sold/rented at a deep discount, thus producing minimal tax revenue. If you take into consideration the high cost of additional City services that will be required in these new areas, the City of Aurora will be loosing money on this "deal" for decades to come!

We must ask the members of the Aurora City Council how is it that our city administration that claims to be short of money for libraries, police and city parks - does have millions of dollars to subsidize a private company's real estate development.

Teacher's Desk: Support Seawell for DPS

IEP meetings continue, and I may soon turn into a pumpkin. Meanwhile, Denver Public Schools are holding a school board election and I have an endorsement for the at-large seat: Mary Seawell. The reason I am endorsing Mary is simple. She supports doing whatever it takes to ensure student academic success. This includes programs and process in regular district schools, charter schools, magnets and innovation schools. That is the fair-minded philosophy that the Denver School Board needs. This is the attitude that is needed for someone who will be making the decision of our charter schools’ renewals and the charters of new charter schools.

Her opposition is clearly anti-charter school without results-based plans to improve student achievement. He regurgitates trite, worn-out arguments.

I like Mary for another reason. She was part of the team that built the Denver University’s new MBA in educational leadership. The program is a much needed resource and is a combination of traditional school leadership training coupled with marketing and entrepreneurship. Other states’ universities have “charter school principal programs,” and I am thrilled that Colorado now does too!

Kathleen Kullback is a licensed special educator at Colorado High School Charter, a Denver alternative high school, and a former candidate for the State Board of Education.

Why I voted for Miller

Councilman Todd Miller got my vote for Mayor of Centennial when our family mailed in the ballots this week. I considered carefully and held off an earlier endorsement, because of the high standard set by the city's founding mayor, Randy Pye, and my respect for another well-qualified candidate, Cathy Noon. But I've concluded there are four decisive reasons to support Todd Miller. (1) His Council service and professional experience have prepared him as a capable CEO for Centennial.

(2) His strong campaign has demonstrated Todd's leadership, energy, people skills, and organizational ability.

(3) He wants to build on TABOR's fiscal discipline to introduce performance accountability for effectiveness and efficiency in all functions of city government.

(4) He is a spirited and thoughtful Republican, committed to governing on Republican principles and resisting the Democratic agenda for control of local government through liberal policies and electoral dominance.

Note: I also voted for Cindy Combs in Council Ward III, and I have endorsed Ron Phelps in Ward I. Both are well-qualified Republicans running against Democrats who exemplify the concerns of Item 4 above.

No on Springs 2C, a $46M tax hike

Colorado Springs councilwoman Jan Martin says you're rich and that you don’t mind paying a lot more in taxes. If she's right about you, and you have plenty of money for the city bureaucrats to burn, then ignore this message and vote for Issue 2C when you get your mail ballot on October 15th. Editor: So writes former Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany in a letter and mass email last week. His appeal goes on:

However, if you want to help us fight one of the most massive tax increases in Colorado Springs history, then we urge you to make a contribution to CCEG (Citizens for Cost-Effective Government) today at http://www.voteno2c.com/donation

Every dime of your contribution will be used to defeat this business-crippling and economy-shrinking tax. None of your contribution will go to campaign workers or political consultants. We are all working hard as unpaid volunteers because the defeat of Issue 2C is so important to the economic future of our community!

In fact, your contribution will be used exclusively for voter education mailings and e-mails, yard signs, and as many web site, print and radio ads that your contribution makes possible.

What are we going to tell the voters?

As any small business owner knows, Colorado Springs business property owners already pay four times the amount of taxes that residential property owners pay.

If 2C passes, the average homeowner will be soaked for another $200 per year. The average small business owner will pay $1,000 more per year. For large businesses that employ many Colorado Springs residents, that bill could easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is hundreds of thousands of dollars going to government instead of into wages and benefits for workers.

Now, if you've read the tax-hiker's website on the issue, they stand by their story that we'll still have one of the lowest property tax rates in Colorado. But the Gazette looked into the issue and found out that was not true!

The truth is if Issue 2C passes, Colorado Springs taxpayers will pay one of the highest property taxes in all of Colorado! Higher even than Boulder.

When asked about the city's bogus claims, Jan Martin said "I'm trying to remember where we got those numbers."

She can't remember, because they made them up!!!

But facts never get in the way of our Jan Martin and the tax-and-spend city council members. They claim the condition of city finances is "dire" and that there will be catastrophic cuts should voters fail to pass 2C.

What she forgets is that business owners across Colorado Springs have already made "catastrophic" cutbacks -- in budgets and staff -- just to keep their doors open.

Any tax increase -- not just 2C -- right now would kill those same businesses.

But the City Council still keeps its hand out asking for more and more of our tax dollars. Because they don’t have the political courage it takes to make the kinds of cuts that business owners have to make every time the economy goes south.

And it's not like they've gone without more tax dollars.

During the past few years, the voters have swallowed their demands for more revenue. And when the voters say "no," the city council dreams up schemes to seize the dollars they want.

Do you remember the .01-cent sales tax increase to pay for the purchase of additional open space? That raised $5.2 million dollars this year alone.

Or how about the public safety tax of .04 cents to pay for additional police and fire? That raised $23.5 million dollars this year.

Then there was the countywide transportation tax (RTA) of 1 cent, which has allowed Colorado Springs to significantly reduce its contribution to road maintenance and throw that entire burden on the Regional Transportation Authority. That also gave them the room to divert the money they once spent on infrastructure to hiring more bureaucrats.

That transportation tax raised $70 million dollars this year, from which the city of Colorado Springs received 78% or $54.6 million dollars.

And of course, there’s everybody’s favorite, the stormwater tax. (Oops, excuse us, we mean stormwater “fee.”) That generated $20 million dollars this year alone!

That is $103.3 million every year in additional taxes and fees created in just the last few years! And, they still want more!

While we’re on the subject of “fees,” we are still facing a several hundred percent increase in our water rates, and Council says it’s still not enough.

Now Jan Martin and her tax-and-spend council cronies want to boost your property taxes by 200% in the middle of a recession. (And never forget the one truism about taxes: they may go up, but they almost never come down.)

That kind of thinking will kill the very businesses we depend upon to take the risks, generate the profits and hire the workers that keep our tax base and our city strong.

That’s why we're turning to you to help us fight this outrage now, and help save Colorado Springs businesses and our struggling economy.

Thank you for your friendship and support. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards, Andy McElhany

PS- The Colorado Springs city council has promised to repeal the business personal property tax. It is a drop in the tax bucket. They are promising to give up $2 million if they can pass Issue 2C taxing our homes and businesses an additional $46 million on top of the $103.3 million a year in new taxes and fees they have taken from us in the last few years. Help us defeat Issue 2C by donating at our website, or mail your check to Citizens for Cost-Effective Government (CCEG), P.O. Box 6711, Colorado Springs, CO • 80934-6711