UPDATE: The Arvada Fire Protection District is claiming victory.Arvada Fire 2010 Election ResultsThe voters of the Arvada Fire Protection District today passed ballot question 5A. The issue asked the voters to approve a property tax increase to replenish a diminishing budget.
In a race that was very close and with 91% of the votes counted as of 8:00 p.m., there are 16,837 (56%) “YES” votes and 13,100 (44%) “NO” votes.
Of course, when the government wanting a big tax hike is paying a private company to run its tax hike election, well ... it isn't much of a surprise when the government gets its money, is it?UPDATE: According to the most recent campaign report (from September 5 to October 7, 2010) filed with the Colorado Secretary of State, the committee advocating Yes on 5A (the fire district tax hike), has raised over $19,000. Of this, $15,000 has come from one source, the firefighter's union, the Arvada Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 4056.[This commentary was published in the print edition of the Denver Post's 'YourHub.com' for Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Westminster on Thursday, October 14, 2010.]
Ring the alarm bell!
We need to put out the flames of the big tax hike being asked for by the Arvada Fire Protection District (AFPD).
And I mean big -- the district wants a whopping 55 percent increase. If passed, the AFPD tax would go from 9.55 mills to 14.78, a higher rate than either the nearby West Metro or North Metro fire protection districts or the regional average rate.
To help justify this tax hike, the AFPD board decided to dress-up the request by appointing a so-called "Blue Ribbon Panel" to investigate its needs.
But a look at the members of this panel and their credentials makes it apparent that even at the local level governments know how to appoint a committee that will reach the conclusions wanted all along. Indeed, there are members of this panel whom I believe have never publicly opposed a local tax increase, ever.
Part of the AFPD board's calculations for the amount of tax hike is a million-dollar-plus shortfall if state ballot measures 60, 61 and 101 are approved in November. But a recent Denver Post/9 News poll showed that the highest number supporting any of these proposals was only 12 percent. Basing even part of a tax hike request on improbable future events -- especially during difficult economic times -- is overreaching and questionable.
Finally, the district's problematic fiscal judgment is to be witnessed in the special election itself. Instead of conducting this tax increase election by placing the issue on Colorado's November 2nd ballot, the fire board decided to spend over a hundred thousand dollars of our money to run a completely separate mail-in election. This smacks of a purely political calculation to give passage of the tax increase some kind of an advantage -- but it does not portray fiscal responsibility for a unit of government claiming economic distress to spend $106,000 for a duplicate election.
In conclusion, the AFPD board has asked for too much, and by the manner in which they are conducting this election, they have not warranted our trust at this time.
Voters should tell the fire board 'no' on issue 5A on November 2, 2010 ... they can then start planning anew and perhaps present us with a more reasonable request two years from now.