The Pueblo West View

Letter: Spendthrift politicians

Both Pueblo County commissioners and Pueblo West’s metro district board members are practicing spendthrift politics in their individually announced intentions to put tax initiatives on an up-coming election ballot. Both agencies will solicit voter approval for new sales taxes – county-wide: another one-half percent to support county nonprofits; Pueblo West-wide: one percent to support metro district roads – to go from 3.9 to 5.4 percent on Pueblo West taxable purchases.

Both county commissioners and metro district board members have in recent years squandered so much taxpayer money on political monuments and special interest favors that both face general fund shortfalls. Now, both agencies have come up with a solution typical of politicians: Just hit taxpayers up for more money. But did county commissioners or metro district board members, past or present, ever consider asking for public approval before going on costly spending sprees?

Did county commissioners ask for public approval before increasing the county’s public debt by over $100 million building the new county judicial building in Downtown Pueblo? – Reportedly requiring 23 new sheriff’s deputies and a new inmate-transport bus for security purposes, thereby increasing sheriff’s department payroll costs by over $1 million yearly, plus a $500,000 capital expenditure for a bus. Did they ask for public approval before incurring over $7 million in bond debt acquiring Desert Hawk Golf Course at Pueblo West (twice market value); or for loaning Desert Hawk nearly $4 million over the past decade to pay its debt service and operating costs; or for continuing to contribute yearly over $300,000 of taxpayer money after writing the loans off in 2012 as uncollectible?

No, they did not.

Did Pueblo West’s metro board ever consider asking for public approval before linking the metro district into the Colorado Springs Southern Delivery System? – A multi-million-dollar commitment that could have been avoided by constructing a less costly Pueblo West backup water delivery system. Did they ask for public approval before building that Northside Pueblo West “Taj Mahal” fire station, a political monument that could have been built for half its multi-million-dollar cost; or before installing the $3 million sewer line from that fire station, ultimately to favor a nearby special-interest venture that never materialized; or before spending $350,000 on plans for a harebrained professional sports complex idea the metro district couldn’t afford; or before loaning over $4 million in taxpayer money and unpaid water bills to Desert Hawk Golf Course? – Money that was loaned – and is still being loaned at over $300,000 yearly – probably in violation of state statutes; money that can never be repaid by perennially money-losing golf course operations.

No, they did not.

Yet arrogant county and metro district spendthrift politicians would presume to ask citizens facing fragile economic conditions and high unemployment to volunteer more tax money to bail them out of financial quagmires that they created. County and metro politicians dug those fiscal holes themselves; they need to find creative ways to fill them, other than simply asking taxpayers for more money.

Bill Clemens

Pueblo West

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