The Pueblo Chieftan

Letter: Passing the buck

Passing the buck is one way the Pueblo West metro board increases general fund spending without attempting to increase taxes — that is, short of using ever-diminishing reserve funds.

The general fund is otherwise known as the governmental fund, where property taxes are collected and spent for general governmental purposes.

The law requires voter approve before any tax may take effect to support additional general fund spending.

The metro board has talked periodically about putting a sales tax initiative on the ballot.

Water rates, however, are independently set and regularly increased by the metro board as they choose, by whatever amount they choose.

One way this is done is by allocating general fund expenses to the water enterprise.

Examples of this would be general fund personnel costs, information technology, fleet maintenance and engineering costs.

There may be justification for allocating some of these expenses, providing they are based on actual general fund services, actually supplied to the water enterprise. But there is no credible reason for passing off water costs to the water enterprise – water for Lovell Park and the swimming pool, for youth sports playing fields and the dog park, and for the new Civic Center Park when it opens.

Look at any metro district budget, including the one for 2014 now awaiting public hearing — at the November 12 regular metro board meeting. In each general fund departmental operating expense budget, provision is made for the cost of water usage – except, that is, for parks and recreation and swimming pool water usage. No general fund provision is made for their water usage.

It appears as though the water enterprise delivers parks and recreation water free of charge.

The water enterprise has budgeted $200,000 in its 2014 expense budget, ostensibly to buy water.

But it already owns the water through its established water rights.

Actually, as the water enterprise delivers water to parks and recreation, it prepares bookkeeping entries, charging that water as a water enterprise expense, rather than properly billing it to the general fund where the water is actually used.

That’s one way the metro board circumvents the democratic process.

Rather than asking voters to approve a tax increase, they simply pass general fund water costs along to the water enterprise, which then passes them along to Pueblo West household water customers and other water users in their ever-increasing water rates.

Isn’t that effectively taxation without representation?

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