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An informed electorate

In the wake of the recent town election, voters will select two directors for the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District Board next week.

The district has been the object of attention for several years, and opinions range wide and are often heated.

It behooves voters to pay heed to the information available on the five candidates. Each candidate has been profiled in the pages of The SUN and there is another chance to gain insight tonight, at the League of Women Voters forum at 6 p.m. at the Extension Building.

The need for voters to educate themselves concerning candidates and issues will remain paramount as the season builds momentum.

Primary elections will demand attention. An election to select a county commissioner will provide candidates with distinct opinions on issues that directly affect everyone in Pagosa Country. Voters in the 6th Senate District will pick someone to represent them in Denver and a race in House District 59 will produce a new representative for the district.

Moreover, there will be a number of issues facing voters on the statewide ballot.

The SUN will cover all ballot issues in coming months, but one we believe voters must pay particular attention to at this juncture, months from the November general election, is Proposition 101.

It is an excellent example of something that sounds great but, on close reading, could show itself to be a very big problem if passed.

The proposition involves a “voter-approved revenue change” intended to “ reduce government revenue.”

The proposition would also impose new, lower spending limits in all municipalities and counties in the state. If passed, 101 would reduce all state and local taxes on vehicle rentals and leases; reduce vehicle ownership taxes over four years to nominal rates; require that all registration, license and title changes combined total $10 per year per vehicle; set the 2011 state income rate at 4.5 percent and require later rates to decrease to 3.5 percent; repeal the alternative minimum tax; and specify that all added charges to telecommunications service customer accounts, with the exception of 911 fees at 2009 rates, will be tax increases.

Look below the surface and the possible effects leap at you.

State revenue would be cut by $1.2 billion in income tax revenues when the rate is reduced to 3.5 percent; $343 million will be gone from transportation; $100 million in sales tax will be lost; $22 million gone with no taxes on rental vehicles; $4.5 million less in telecommunication fees revenue.

The 101 losses for local government in Archuleta County could be staggering.

The county now receives ownership taxes of approximately $1.4 million. If 101 is fully implemented, that amount could be reduced to $22,549 by 2014. This translates to the school district losing more than $542,000; the county losing approximately $447,000; special districts taking a hit of nearly $436,000, and the town of Pagosa Springs losing as much as $56,000 annually.

The county takes in approximately $1.04 million per year in license fees. That amount could drop to $187,910 in 2011. The average vehicle owner in Pagosa would see his or her license fee go from $55.16 in 2009 to $10. A nice prospect on one level, but…

The county collects road and bridge fees (FASTER) amounting to nearly $574,000. With 101 in place, that would go to zero.

This is music to the ears of some people, bul the wary voter should ask: What services do I and my neighbors requires and what does our community need in the way of infrastructure and education for it to remain a viable place to live and for it to flourish in the future?

Only by answering these questions and seeking information about ballot proposals and candidates can the voter make a wise choice.

Karl Isberg