Devastating. Disastrous. Superficial. Short-sighted.
The Southwest Colorado Council of Governments hosted a news conference Tuesday to discuss the economic impact of three anti-tax ballot measures in the November election. And though Colorado campaign law forbids local governments from using public resources on issue advocacy, the remarks about amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 had a decidedly subjective flavor.
This stuff is stupid, said Durango City Councilor Doug Lyon, one of the speakers.
Lyon and 25 others representing area governments and agencies described how they think the controversial initiatives would affect their organizations and left little doubt how they feel.
Steve Parker, district commissioner for the Colorado Department of Transportation, led the crowd in cries of Dont hurt Colorado.
Parker talked about Proposition 101, which would reduce registration fees for used vehicles to $1 and $2 for new vehicles, and cap license and title fees at $10. Proposition 101 also would cut the state income tax from 4.63 percent to 3.5 percent.
In Colorado, propositions are changes to state statutes, and amendments are changes to the state constitution.
With money from registration fees funding state infrastructure, Parker said the department would have to make do with $270 million less every year.
Cuts of 30 percent at CDOT this winter led to 30 percent of the states roads not being plowed at night.
And the howls were deafening, Parker said. If this passes, we could have a policy of not plowing any roads at night.
Also discussing Proposition 101 were John Anderson, with the Fiscal Responsibility Information Committee, Lon Erwin with the Community Foundation and fire chief Dan Noonan.
Noonan said Durango Fire & Rescue Authority would be cut from $900,000 to $13,000 if 101 passes.
You know how many brownies you have to sell to buy a $350,000 fire truck? Its a lot, he said.
School Board member Julie Levy talked about Amendment 60, which would require school districts to cut their property-tax income in half by 2020.
Colorados Taxpayers Bill of Rights mandates that voters approve all property-tax increases. Amendment 60 also would undo all property-tax increases approved since TABOR was passed in 1992.
If 60 passes, Levy said, on top of laying off teachers and cutting art and sports programs, the district would have to close schools.
We looked at closing schools this year, and we could be looking at seven times the cuts if this passes, Levy said.
Durango School District 9-R cut $2 million from its fiscal year 2009-2010 budget and eliminated 20 positions.
It is not possible to eliminate half of the property-tax funding for schools without serious consequences.
Lyon, state Sen. Bruce Whitehead and Ed Morlan, director of Region 9 Economic Development District, talked about Amendment 61, which would forbid state and local governments from borrowing money without voter approval.
If we didnt acquire debt, there would be no rec center or library, said Durango Mayor Michael Rendon. Debt is the only way we pay for those large capital projects.
Lyon tried to tie the measures to the city of Colorado Springs, which has gained notoriety for the fallout of its tough anti-tax policies, and where Lyon said the controversial measures originated.
He said Colorado Springs is now in such bad shape, citizen volunteers cut the citys grass.
I think that the good people of Colorado Springs who cant cut their own grass because their fiscal house is in such disarray shouldnt tell the folks of Durango and La Plata County how to manage their fiscal affairs.
Also in attendance were elected representatives from San Juan County, La Plata County, Archuleta County, Bayfield, Ignacio and Silverton.
It is a nonpartisan issue, Durango City Councilor Christina Thompson said. This could take us a big step backward as far as recovery goes.
The Durango Chamber of Commerce plans to draft a resolution opposing the initiatives, said Executive Director Jack Llewellyn.
He said, 60, 61 and 101 are bad for business.
County Commissioner Wally White said commissioners will look to pass a similar resolution in October.