Ron Stewart fiddling while BoCo burning

This week’s glaring headlines in the Times-Call say it all…

“64M allotted to buy open space”…”BoCo mulls $30M open space purchase.”

Czar Ron Stewart has crossed into the twilight zone of insanity by his obsession to buy more and more open space at county taxpayers’ expense. Continue reading…

Paying for imaginary railroad

As the ever-growing RTD FasTracks boondoggle exasperates Longmont (we’ve commented on this debacle before), former Longmont Mayor Fred Wilson tells it like it is with a letter printed in the Sunday Times-Call, Dec. 19…

To the Editor:
As I read the latest chapter in the long and winding tale of FasTracks, many quotes suitable for describing the situation pop into my mind. Like “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. Or “Go ahead, Charlie Brown, I won’t pull the football away this time”. Or “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Continue reading…

Commissioners reach critical mass on open space

Have the Boulder County Commissioners gone completely mad to even think about a possible sales tax increase for more acquisition of open space properties?

Do you realize such a move would translate into Longmonters paying FIVE different open space sales taxes (four to Boulder County) on every retail purchase in town?

My letter to the commissioners prior to their public hearing on county tax proposals to be held Monday, July 26, 2010… Continue reading…

Devil in details with BOCO ballot issues

Boulder County has formally posted the language of ballot issues for the upcoming November election, including a preposterous open space sales tax extension that takes fiscal irresponsibility to all-time heights. The enviro-socialist commissioners have really outdone themselves this time around…

COUNTY ISSUE 1A : [Open Space Sales and Use Tax $50M Bond Authorization and 0.25% Tax Extension]

SHALL BOULDER COUNTY DEBT BE INCREASED BY UP TO $50,000,000, WITH A MAXIMUM REPAYMENT COST OF UP TO $140,000,000, WITH NO INCREASE IN ANY COUNTY TAX OR TAX RATE, BY THE ISSUANCE OF REVENUE BONDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF OPEN SPACE ACQUISITION AND IMPROVEMENTS… (full text)

So we’re talking repayment costs of up to $140 million for voters to extend a sales tax that expires 10 years from now? Are you kidding me? Heck, Boulder County is already a couple of hundred million dollars in hock for open space—they’ve got a staggering 95,000 acres in the program—and now the commissioners are asking voters to approve another $140 million for more open space? Simply outrageous. What’s more, it’s been revealed that BOCO is running 10 percent behind in overall sales tax revenue in 2009. They’re having trouble meeting current obligations, similar to many other local governments. Some fine economic climate for adding hundreds of millions of more debt for green mania, eh commissioners?

A second county ballot issue pushes more enviro overkill, this time with debt repayment costs of up to $180 million, although BOCO would only be responsible for a mere $85 million

COUNTY ISSUE 1B : [ClimateSmart (CEOLID) $85M Bond Authorization]

SHALL BOULDER COUNTY DEBT (FOR CLEAN ENERGY OPTIONS LOCAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT AND SIMILARLY SITUATED LOCAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS IN OTHER COLORADO COUNTIES) BE INCREASED BY UP TO $85,000,000, WITH A MAXIMUM REPAYMENT COST OF UP TO $180,000,000, WITH NO INCREASE IN ANY COUNTY TAX OR TAX RATE, PROVIDED THAT AT LEAST $45,000,000 OF SUCH DEBT AND AT LEAST $95,000,000 OF SUCH MAXIMUM REPAYMENT COST SHALL BE PAYABLE FROM SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS ON PROPERTIES IN SUCH OTHER COUNTIES AND OTHER AMOUNTS PAYABLE BY SUCH OTHER COUNTIES, RESULTING IN A NET OF $40,000,000 OF DEBT AND $85,000,000 OF MAXIMUM REPAYMENT COST PAYABLE FROM SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS IN BOULDER COUNTY, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCING THE COSTS OF CONSTRUCTING, ACQUIRING AND INSTALLING SOLAR AND OTHER RENEWABLE ENERGY SYSTEMS OR ENERGY-EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS FOR PROPERTY OWNERS THAT CONSENT TO BE INCLUDED IN SUCH DISTRICTS…(full text)

Just like on the national scene, the screaming message that must come from citizens to the Powers That Be is, “How are we going to pay for this?”

 

A FasTracks supporter no more

How I regret voting FOR FasTracks in 2004–I even helped circulate petitions to get the issue on the ballot. Silly me, being a longtime sales tax watchdog. Did I really want to pay a full 1.0% sales tax for getting RTD table scraps on the northern fringe of the district? And now they’re going to ask for another 0.4%? Heaven sakes, before we know it, our total sales tax will be 10% just like liberal infested Chicago!

In Longmont we’ve always been destined for a lousy deal with the FasTracks plan, yet we pay the same hefty RTD sales tax as someone living in central Denver who has been enjoying the use of light rail for nearly 10 years.

Like many voters, I fell for the propaganda and “cute little trains” that I had sampled at the beginnings of light rail in the Denver Platte Valley. Having many family members who live in the south Denver metro area, I eagerly accompanied them on light rail several times to downtown sports events in the early 2000s. Pretty cool ride, I thought at the time.

Of course, the proposed Northwest Corridor with its heavy rail on restricted BNSF tracks is a far cry from what’s been done in Denver–especially the Longmont spur. What northern Colorado commuter is going to want to come into Longmont and park (with fee), take a train to the Boulder transit village, then get on another train back to Denver? I figure the whole convoluted process could take up to two hours with all the stops and exchanges. I’d hate to guess what the parking and fares would total, just for one way.

I’m not a commuter, but when I have to go to downtown Denver I’d much rather hop in my car and drive down there in 50 minutes or so, depending on traffic. I-25 driving is not as bad as FasTracks advocates claim, and the highway will soon be three-lane from Longmont southward (eventually from Ft. Collins) with a new interchange at Hwy 66. We’ve already got the new interchange at Hwy 119, completed several years ago.

Former Colorado Governor Bill Owens points out that a full build of the FasTracks plan will only reduce metro vehicle-miles traveled by less than 1.0%. Owens favors a T-Rex type model to meet the metro area transit needs. It would translate to roughly half of transportation tax monies going toward highway improvements and dedicated bus lanes, and the other half for key light rail corridors. It’s an efficient and much less costly strategy indeed.

Another thing that’s troubling with the FasTracks push is its growing connotation with the progressive far left in Colorado. You know these folks (like the Bloc of 4 on Longmont Council) by their over-the-top environmentalism, big spending, taxes, and debt; and basic desire of government control of our lives. Buzzwords like “smart growth” and “new urbanism” are often heard with FasTracks advocacy. It’s the mantra that cars are bad, suburbs and development are very bad, and people are to be crammed into high-density cities so they can walk and bike and use mass transit.

Count me as a Longmonter and American who does not want to be told how to live, what light bulbs to use, how big my house size is, or how my personal property is used. I certainly do not want to be forced to pay for a transportation method that doesn’t make practical sense for my community.