Remind me not to move to Colorado
Springs. Or even visit there. Its anti-tax residents have decided to
rough it rather than pay for services most of us take for granted.
Streetlights have gone dark. Buses don't run at night or on weekends. Road paving is out. Trash is no longer collected at city parks.
And that's just for starters.
The Denver Post
says that city recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools and some
museums will close by the end of March. Landscaping at public places,
including mowing and watering, will end soon.
Fire and police department jobs will continue to disappear. So will the city's police helicopters. Want to buy one? They're for sale on the Internet.
Cash-strapped Colorado Springs: The reason for all the cuts? The city's growing financial woes.
is happening everywhere, sales tax collections are down. In a
recession, people don't buy as much, which means they don't pay sales
taxes. Colorado Springs' 2010 sales-tax collection forecast is almost
$22 million less than in 2007.
Meanwhile, the city is facing growing pension and health care costs for city employees. The same problems plagued Vallejo, the first city in California to go bankrupt.
And then there's the electorate.
November, Colorado Springs voters soundly defeated a proposal to
increase property taxes. Without the higher levy, the city's treasury
is out $27.6 million.
That money would have gone toward the city's $212 million
general fund budget. But voters apparently don't
trust city government to wisely spend a general tax increase.
When a town dies:
So now Colorado Spring is dying the death of a thousand budget cuts.
Residents soon will have to decide just how much deconstruction of
their town they're willing to take.
I understand the frustration. When times are tough, the last thing you want to do with your limited cash is send some of it to the tax collector.
homeowners, that "enough already with the taxes" position is aggravated
(in every sense of the word) when the levy is on a residence that's
gone down in value.
yes, officials at all levels of government too often make poor fiscal
choices that cost us more in taxes than we want or are able to pay.
Back to tougher times: But are we all really ready to essentially go back to the totally on your own days of the Wild West? I'm a native Texan and we take our independence and self-reliance very seriously, but I also appreciate the value of a good community.
What do you think your home will be worth if buyers have to negotiate potholes to get to it?
Or your kids can't play in the
overgrown neighborhood park that's become home to rodents who love all
the increased ground cover.
And about your kids' education. Their
teachers' salaries (as well as school infrastructures) are paid with
property tax money. When it dries up, the city will indeed be back to the
proverbial one-room schoolhouse.
That's a fine romantic vision in a western movie, but not so good to meet today's educational needs.
Time to get real: It's all fine and well to be angry about excessive taxation. But don't think for a minute you can get away with no taxes.
don't be manipulated by politicians who are more concerned about
themselves than about the communities they say they want to serve. The
demagoguery is only going to get worse as we near the November
Despite the hysteric cries of the totally no-tax crowd, every tax isn't a weed to be cut indiscriminately to the ground. There are wildflowers among them that benefit everyone.
sides need to drop the inflammatory rhetoric and figure out a way to
keep Colorado Springs, and other cities across the country in similar
straits, from drying up and blowing away. Trust me, that is what will
Eventually folks will leave for a place that yes, collects taxes they don't like paying, but also provides services and a true community that they want and need.Related posts:
- 'Tax us more,' say some rich Americans
- The good side of taxes
- The burden on the richest taxpayers
- Taxes and the worldwide quality of life
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