RE: Letter by Scott Hente: “Bruce doesn’t have his facts straight about city finances”
Scott Hente seems to be telling the abbreviated story in regards to real revenue and costs to operate the city.
Let’s start with the PLIT (payment in lieu of taxes). I would venture to say that it is illegal as it violates the intent of the law. The city tells someone that they have violated the spirit and intent of the law, the city should be held to the same standards. The city enterprises were set up to allow freedom to set fee structures without regulation or regards to taxpayer costs without having to obtain approval of the voters.
The same applies to COPs (certificates of participation) which are also a willful violation of the law. That is a violation of the intent and spirit of TABOR (see above).
The Stormwater Enterprise is another example of an illegal tax (aka fee). I would suggest that Mr. Hente obtain a dictionary to find out that a tax and a fee are the same thing. He also refers to the court upholding that a fee is not a tax.
I believe the fee and COPs ruling is about as dumb as they come. Many judges apparently do not feel that our rights are guaranteed by the constitution and not subject to some off the wall interpretation by a so called progressive thought process. The taxpayers of this city have paid taxes for a great many years with city budgets that clearly indicated that a portion was to be firmly committed to drainage.
I am sure everyone knows what happened to that money. It went elsewhere, just like it is today, with another layer of government to support. If you keep expanding government with more facilities, equipment and employees, that money has to come from somewhere. It was moved in the budget to cover the cost of everything except drainage.
Look at the current budget, which requires 46 percent of the revenue for payroll and benefits and that is to increase each year (predicted to increase to 52 percent in a couple of years) as council feels inclined to keep giving our tax dollars away.
Mr. Hente is apparently using a little creative accounting to say that the budget does not increase 5 percent per year. That is where the enterprises come in handy. Costs can be diverted to other accounts to create a lower growth figure for the base budget.
Mr. Hente, you must realize that this city must be revamped from the top down. This city spends money like it is going out of style, the priorities are wrong. Money is spent on non-essential things like a skateboard park or new vehicles for every employee, etc., etc.
That money could take care of a significant amount of drainage every year. Mr. Hente you should know that this city must be privatized. The cost of self performing work by government is something taxpayers cannot continue to support. Private enterprise can provide more for less money.
As you are a contractor and developer, you subcontract out the vast majority of the tasks on your projects because you can predict your costs. That is the way the city should be doing. That alone will generate more tax revenue for the city and significantly reduce taxpayer costs.
Step up to the plate and do the right thing, be a real manager and do what is right for the taxpayer. Don’t just talk a good game.
Mitch Christiansen, Colorado Springs