With tied hand you can't adapt to the needs that occur

Billy Carlisle and Farney created a petition, that will be on the ballot in March next to a city council compromise . In short iBilly Carlisle's proposal would allocate 54% of the sales tax revenue for capital spending, which is 5 times as much as other towns in Colorado with the same size. The logical consequence would be cuts of more than $500,000 to the operating budget of Salida. That might be end up in the closure of the pool (savings of $150.000) and the Steam Plant (savings of 100.000)or closing down Parks and trails, it might be resolved by firing police men or firing the people that are writing grants that the city has been using for improvements. It seems obvious, that Salida would enter a downwards spiral , attracting less visitors and offering less and less services to it's citizen. Until the effects of falling revenues will be apparent the city would have some extra money for repaving streets. Which might or might not really happen since , there is a public process with any of the street improvements, that takes it's time. City council developed a compromise, that still dedicates 3 times as much as other towns to capital spending but would ensure continue of the current services . We elect our city council to make an informed and balanced decision, where our money should be spend every year. Putting handcuffs on their hands will make it impossible for them to serve Salida in a meaningful way.

It is critical that Salida citizen take the time to understand the issue and fill out the ballot voting YES for the City Council initiative 2015-2. Please keep Salida vibrant.

Harald Kasper

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  • edited February 2015

    This has been an interesting issue to follow. I remember back when 2A was on the ballot (and eventually passed), It seemed like everyone in town agreed that our existing streets and sidewalks were in desperate need of some serious TLC and that 2A was the way to get this done. Now, a short time later, progress has been made on our streets, but we still have a ways to go. We have a group who is trying to refocus the 2A money back to streets, and a others saying that if we do so we could experience, "closure of the pool (savings of $150.000) and the Steam Plant (savings of 100.000)or closing down Parks and trails, it might be resolved by firing police men or firing the people that are writing grants"

    The pool, the Steamplant, the parks, the police, and the grant writers all existed before 2A, but if we refocus that money back to streets, they now may go away. I'm struggling to figure out how we could have gotten so far off track so fast. Can anyone help me figure this out? Was it just a few years of creative accounting at the city level and we're now caught with our hand in the bag? We're all in this together. It seems the Carlisle/Farney ballot proposal works to get 2A back to it's original intent of the voters, but we also have to consider the side effects this may have. Keep in mind, we as citizens of Salida bear the responsibility for any of the missteps (intentional or not) of our city government.

  • edited February 2015

    Carlisle-Farney 2014-20 would take total capital spending from 31.7% to 36.5%, based on 2013 numbers. The 54% figure is being repeated over and over by Baker-Schmidt proponents to mislead.

    THE ERRONEOUS STATEMENT

    Mr. Kasper writes: "[Carlisle-Farney 2014-20] would allocate 54% of the sales tax revenue for capital spending, which is 5 times as much as other towns in Colorado with the same size."

    54% of city sales tax is probably correct. "5 times as much as other towns in Colorado with the same size" is incorrect. Here's why:

    IT'S ALL ABOUT THE "GENERAL FUND"

    First some background. All discussion about this issue deals with the General Fund, not the Water and Wastewater, SteamPlant, or Conservation Trust Funds. Neither side should dispute this fact. Citizens should probably be aware of it, as the General Fund is the largest and encompasses Public Works, Police, Fire, Parks, Recreation, Administration, and Community Development.

    Having said that, sometimes money is transferred from the General Fund to other funds, such as subsidies for the SteamPlant. But as to percentages, dollar amounts, etc., everybody presently discusses just General Fund capital expenditures and revenues.

    2013 CAPITAL EXPENDITURES = 31.7% OF REVENUES

    Looking to 2013, the latest year for which we have actual spending figures, we find that gross revenues from the 3% city sales tax were $4,172,735. That's the number Baker- Schmidt proponents keep using to calculate percentages. It's misleading.

    It's misleading because the city's General Fund receives more revenue than the 3% city sales tax. It also gets 2008-2B funds, county sales tax, money from the state and feds, fees, fines, etc. Add all these together, and the General Fund had gross revenues of $7,430,699 in 2013.

    Capital spending in 2013 was $2,355,899, including interest on the Touber Building lease purchase. That's 31.7% of total General Fund revenues of $7,430,699.

    The "average 10.8% of other cities" we hear about is based on those cities' total revenues, not just sales tax revenues. Baker-Schmidt advocates compare apples to oranges when they cite the 54% figure and compare it to 10.8%.

    2012 CAPITAL EXPENDITURES = 32.8% OF REVENUES

    In 2012, another year for which we have hard data provided by the city, Salida spent 32.8% of total General Fund revenues (30.2% in capital outlay and 2.6% in debt service) on capital expenditures.

    Our neighbors in Gunnison spent 36.9% of total General Fund revenues (35.1% capital outlay and 1.8% in debt service) on capital expenditures in 2012.

    CARLISLE-FARNEY 2014-20 INCREASES CAPITAL SPENDING BY 4.8%

    The city has repeatedly stated that it spent $684,756 in 2008-2A funds on capital street improvements in 2013. In comparison, Carlisle-Farney 2014-20 would have had the city spend $1,043,173 on the same improvements. That's an additional $358,417 (not the $500,000 the city keeps saying).

    This would make General Fund capital expenditures 36.5% of General Fund revenues under Carlisle-Farney 2014-20.

    WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

    A white paper produced by the city in 2008 said that $1.975 million (in 2008 dollars) should be spent on streets every year. The city advocated for 2008-A by citing this sum.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/k9mdr2t86ogbpme/08.0814 Hugh Young 2A article.pdf?dl=0

    Harald claims that Baker-Schmidt's 35% of sales tax revenues "still dedicates 3 times as much as other towns to capital spending." Not exactly right. 35% of 2013 sales tax revenues equals 19.6% of 2013 total revenues.

    It's puzzling why so many people cite to a lower percentage as better. Too little spending got Salida into trouble in the first place. Why do we want to go back?

    EMPLOYEES - THE CITY NEEDS TO PROVE ITS CASE

    The city's budgets provide no information about what employees work in what departments in what specific positions at what specific salaries. Chaffee County provides such clear organizational and financial information. Why not Salida?

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/l10vsai1dg2jyw3/Organizationalcharts.pdf?dl=0

    I've watched Salida government mushroom in the last 18 years, on a number of different levels. Yet Salida's population has stayed about the same.

    Unless and until the city regularly provides in its budgets clear disclosure about organizational structure, job duties and salaries, its claims of "we'll have to lay off police and firemen" are emotional artifice. Let's have sufficient information to make real judgments.

    Thanks for reading.

    Jeff Auxier

  • tomtom
    edited February 2015

    I'm struck by Jeff's statement, "Too little spending got Salida into trouble in the first place."

    Salida is in trouble? What, because every street in town isn't an unbroken ribbon of flawless asphalt?

    Are streets what make Salida great? Are the streets of our town what make people want to be here? Do perhaps the Steamplant, trails, the pool, the parks and the whitewater park, our new schools, and our modern hospital have anything to do with it? People want to be here. Property values are going way up, people can't even find a place to rent. Those things are not good, but they are evidence that there's something about this place that people want to be part of.

    I approve of the pace of capital spending, particularly streets and sidewalks. If the City should spend more money, I can't see how it should go to quickening the pace of street repaving. I think the rate of progress on street upgrades in the last several years is appropriate.

    I've lived in Salida for 15 years. Things have changed a lot in that time. For the better. A few loud people with a myopic obsession about streets shouldn't be allowed to steer us away from what actually has made Salida better.

    In trouble? Really?

    Tom Purvis

  • Jan Schmidt, at November 17, 2014 work session, 1:28:15 on the video, re: Salida's streets:

    "A lot of them are in a condition where they can’t just simply be slurry-sealed , or chip-sealed, or anything, at this point. They need to be dug up and rebuilt. In some cases we need to redo the water lines underneath them."

    400+ people signed the petition, I guess somewhat more than a "few."

    54% remains a misleading and inaccurate number, no matter how myopic I or others are alleged to be.

    Thanks!

    Jeff

  • Jeff,

    I did not say there aren't some bad streets, and I never said fixing them isn't important. My comment was meant to question the urgency that is implied by the petition. Do we need to sacrifice other things just to focus on all the bad streets right away?

    Yes, let's fix them. But at a pace that won't cause us to neglect other important things that may have a more direct effect on the quality of life of Salida's citizens.

    Thank you too!

    Tom Purvis

  • edited March 2015

    Mr. Kasper's letter in the Mountain Mail today disregards the existence of of 2005-2A, which requires 35% of the first 2% city sales tax to go to capital infrastructure spending, debt service or streets. That meant that the city needed to allocate about $950,000 to what is called "CI" under "2% City Sales Tax" in the document referenced by him:

    http://cityofsalida.com/?attachment_id=12366

    Instead of $950,00 allocated to CI, however, there is only $447,000. The allocation to the 2005-2A CI requirements is $500,000 short. That $500,000, until proven, should not be assigned to the $684,000 the city claims in 2008-2A spending.

    2005-2A requires the city spend out if its first 2% sales tax:

    • 35% for capital infrastructure improvements, streets or debt service;
    • 9% to capital equipment like playground equipment, computers, AV stuff, police cars, volleyball nets, etc.;
    • up to 8% to keep a Contingency Reserve fully funded;
    • 1% for an Economic Development fund that should be used for advertising in Colorado Springs or hiring outdoor musicians downtown on weekends or something other than airport expenses, where it has been used over the last years.

    There is no wiggle room in the foregoing requirements. The city has not at any time shown compliance with the provisions of 2005-2A, never in any of its budgets, never in any of the documents Harald references, never in any audit. The Baker-Schmidt 2015-02 amendment would do away with the above 2005-2A requirements as well as 2008-2A. Baker-Schmidt 2015-02 would cut capital spending to 20% of total General Fund revenue.

    In November, 2012, a citizen with some understanding of these issues requested a 2005-2A accounting from Jan Schmidt for budget years 2009 - 2013. She claimed the city had it in internal working documents, but then said it would cost the requester up to $400 for her to dig up the information.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/wihbxabm1rso0us/2005-2A verification request.pdf?dl=0

    The city should have provided verification of its compliance with 2005-2A in each and every budget since 2006. It doesn't matter if one:

    • wants to sell or rent bicycles;
    • is working to get a Breckenridge-esque palace built across from a riverside restaurant by trying to move AHRA to Vandaveer at taxpayer expense; or,
    • doesn't care about streets and a bloated administration

    the city needs to provide verification of its compliance with law. Those who argue against the city doing so attack a fundamental basis of democracy.

    The documents referenced by Harald were created on or after January 27, 2015, but they go back to events of 2009. They have no legal effect. They or something like them should have been in every budget since 2006, to give them some binding authenticity.

    2005-2A was voter approved (obviously) in 2005 and had been in place for almost three years before the city asked for more sales tax for streets and such under 2008-2A.

    Thank you.

  • Cory, Here is a response to your thoughtful comments.

    Yes we had all those departments and buildings prior to 2A and 2B passing in 2008. What is rarely spoken of was the quality of the things you mentioned. The police department was consistently understaffed during that time period. For a time there was no officer on duty in the wee hours of the morning. The squad cars had many more miles than recommended and demanded too much maintenance and where unreliable.

    Our fire department’s chief response engine was too old and demanded more than the normal maintenance. It was held together by the fire fighters who constantly worked on it. Both police and fire where operating with outdated safety equipment.

    The pool’s locker rooms were impossible to clean. Their horrible condition was a constant source of citizen complaints.

    The roofs on the Senior Citizens Center, the City Hall (now the fire station), the Museum and Chamber of Commerce were all in need of replacement.

    As far as I know all roadwork done within the City from 2002 to 2008 was bonded. This includes G, E, F and D Streets. That means the citizens were paying for the use of the money for roadwork plus the actual cost of the repair and replacement. I feel that is a waste of money and is just a way to have the future pay for what we are using today. Since 2A all streets have be worked on without loans.

    Know that this information is from my memory and is probably imperfect. The reality is we see what we want to see and so all of our memory’s have some bias including my own. Thanks, Chuck Rose

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