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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Pool and pay raises

Here are two recent examples of my efforts to save you money.Bob Selle, the Calhan school superintendent, wanted to create a special district to build a Calhan swimming pool. Lacking market support (not enough paying customers), he tried to make all property taxpayers in four different school districts pay for this new layer of government with a property tax increase of 7.8 mills. All taxpayers would subsidize the recreation of a few.I opposed this effort for several reasons. It is not the proper role of government to entertain people. Government should not pre-empt private sector activities. Government should not subsidize money-losing businesses. I tire of the liberal excuse that all government programs are OK because they are “for the children.” I also pledged I would never vote to raise taxes or put people into debt, and this silly scheme would do both.I shared my views to Mr. Selle almost a year ago, when he first promoted this idea to me. After five years, he had only raised about $50,000 in cash pledges. He then inflated his financial backing by saying, for example, a 10-year lease of one acre owned by his Calhan school district was worth $65,000, when outright ownership of that acre was worth only a fraction of that amount. His own school district was going to make a gift of this public asset to his own corporation by granting a 10-year lease for one dollar a year.Property owners in the proposed district received a deceptive “notice” of the proposed district. All that was visible on the outside of a folded sheet of white paper were the mailing label and a printing mailing box stating it was mailed at nonprofit rates by Selle’s Calhan school district. No school should use its mailing permit for political purposes, even if the cost were repaid.Persons in the other three school districts who read the outside printing concluded it was junk mail sent in error and threw it away. I was told this deceptive practice had been used in a prior application by the same lawyer hired to advocate this tax increase plan. Why? The inside notice said people could exempt their property from the tax increase by filing a request. Obviously, the tax pushers disliked exemptions, because that would force the tax rate to skyrocket on those remaining. They wanted people to toss the notice unopened. They also requested the vote be in a low-turnout (5 to 10 percent) May election.Many people opposed the plan before the board of commissioners on Feb. 2. I won’t list the many flaws in this proposal. You may listen to the tape at moved to reject the plan. Other commissioners supported waiving the application fee, which was just over $200, even though staff time had cost us over $6,000. They wanted to delay the matter so Mr. Selle could send out a notice that followed the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law. When continued, I advised the citizen opponents how to collect additional exemption requests, in order to erode the tax base and cause this scheme to collapse.I am pleased to report that within a week after the campaign of resistance began, Mr. Selle’s lawyer wrote that the application was withdrawn. Let’s hope it never appears again.Imagine how good it feels to save my constituents millions of dollars in taxes and debt!*****************House Bill 1295 proposes a 38 percent pay raise for your county commissioners, now paid $63,202. The new level would be $87,300. That’s 97 percent of the governor’s $90,000 salary, even though our workload is shared among five of us, and we have a county administrator (overpaid at $142,000 a year) and a new deputy county administrator, plus department heads, etc. The new salary for our sheriff would be $111,100, almost 25 percent more than the governor. Over my objection, our new coroner is being paid $225,000, 2.5 times the governor’s salary. WOW!I oppose these unjustified pay raises. The clerk to the board furnished us a recap for 2005, showing we had only 266 hours of board meetings all year. That’s about 6 1/2 weeks work, at 40 hours a week, or $237 per meeting hour. The job is truly part-time, and we should end the two administrative posts. We were elected to run county government. Pueblo County terminated its administrator, and Arapahoe doesn’t have one. Many other counties don’t.I testified against this pay raise at the state capitol, but the skids were greased. Politicians giving fellow politicians pay raises-yuk! Keep in mind, I am still turning my entire salary over to a charity run by volunteers, from which I receive no payments.I proposed salaries be adjusted only for inflation since 1992, when TABOR spending limits were adopted. Higher increases would require county voter approval (fat chance!) My idea was rebuffed. Someday, we need to rationalize this whole sordid mess of politicians’ pay raises, tax-free cash, lobbyist gifts, junkets, etc. Our “system” is shabby beyond belief.A final irony: The senate sponsor of this bill is Deanna Hanna, who will resign in disgrace soon. She was caught trying to shake down Realtors for money. She implied in writing that her vote on bills would depend on whether that Realtors group gave her monetary “reparations.”Urge Senator Ron May (303-866-2737) to oppose HB 1295. Call today.Contact me at (719) 520-6412, by e-mail at, or by writing me at 27 E. Vermijo Ave. Colorado Springs, CO 80903. Audiotapes of all BOCC meetings, both simulcast and in archives, are available at Back issues of my monthly reports are at my Web site, Reports can be emailed to you monthly. Just sign up.

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