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Taxing questions

Who wouldn't support a small mill levy increase if it will actually "save" our city? We're told the increase is needed just to keep the Springs' basic services intact, and that there are no luxuries involved in the increase. The levy increases for the next five years, but will only cost me a trickle over $200 increase in taxes five years down the road. Not a big deal.

We're also told that this property tax increase will help cover part of the loss in sales tax revenue due to the economic downturn. But hey, the economy will turn around. Maybe not this year or next; but gradually over the next five years or so. By then, sales tax revenues could increase to levels we saw before the economic downturn. Will our property taxes be reduced then?

The bigger picture is a bit intimidating: 1. Many property taxes for 2009, payable in 2010, already will be going up due to revaluation. 2. The state is in similar financial dire straits as the Springs. The state presently contributes over half the tax obligation to the school districts' general fund; if removed, individual property owners' taxes for schools might almost double. 3. Senior citizens are on the verge of losing their "homestead exemption."

So this mill increase is about more than a measly $200 property tax increase. A $200,000 property owner may pay a tad over a grand a year in property taxes now, and that's a bargain. But looking forward, we could easily be paying double that amount, possibly more. And remember, that's just to "stop the bleeding."

— Dave Ruetschilling

Colorado Springs

 

Tighten the belt

Concerning the self-induced budget "crisis" in our great city, I feel the opportunity is golden to build a lean, mean governing machine. The "Oh my God, you can't live without us!" mentality of our leadership and their true mindset are revealed in the child-like, passive-aggressive actions used in selling us this scam. Killing the Fourth of July celebration in Memorial Park and "punishing" our hardworking families was an act of desperation and will (I hope) be rewarded with a solid "No" vote on any attempt for more tax money.

When about 50 percent of our local tax dollars goes to our bloated emergency services and we are looking at about a $28 million shortfall, it only makes sense to cut accordingly. We own this city, it is ours to grow, and like with a spoiled brat or an addicted friend, it is time for some tough love. Giving government unlimited resources only encourages the waste that comes with a perceived tenure and apathy in the civil servant culture.

One has to look no further than the Stormwater Enterprise to see our tax dollars washed away along with the reworked drainages. Fixing a drainage system that does not seem broken and then constantly fixing the fix (U.S. 24 is just one example) is a textbook government "use it or lose it" mentality.

— Karl Knapstein

Colorado Springs

Strangers in our midst

There's a gorilla in the room regarding the Springs' commitment to the U.S. Olympic Committee. A simple query on the USOC's home page reveals it all with garish clarity: "Your Search for 'Colorado Springs Community Involvement' returned 0 results."

Thanks to the USOC for the jobs and financial impact for all these years. That said, where else does the USOC headquarters show itself in the fabric of life in Colorado Springs? How many parades, golf tournaments or 5K runs occur in this community, and how many have USOC involvement?

Yes, in July, the OTC did invite the people to a four-hour open house. But will any Olympic reps travel the four blocks to Memorial Park for the Balloon Classic? Sky Sox baseball, All Pikes Peak Reads, TheatreWorks, Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo and a host of other community assets clearly demonstrate their acumen for outreach. City Council has committed funding to an organization that hasn't hosted as much as a pancake breakfast.

Outside Colorado Springs, it's different. At usoc.org, the mission of Milwaukee's Pettit Olympic Ice Center includes community outreach. In Charlotte, the National Olympic Whitewater Center's mission statement encourages "family/civic interaction." USA Gymnastics, a national governing body, helped raise $201,203 nationwide in 2008 for the Children's Miracle Network. Entire Olympic hockey teams have visited hospitals in Minnesota.

For the millions we're investing, there's not even a neighborly "come see us in beautiful Colorado Springs" on the USOC site. More thorough and interesting information is presented about training centers in Chula Vista, Calif., and Lake Placid, N.Y.

It is unclear which Olympic ideals — fair play, perseverance, respect, sportsmanship — are preserved by the USOC's lack of community outreach.

— Mark Snow

Woodland Park

Misrepresentation

Would you sign a consent form for a surgery your doctor said you needed without checking it out first? You'd get a second opinion, read about it on the Internet, etc., because today we owe it to ourselves to be informed consumers. Politics is no exception. We grow up trusting doctors and distrusting politicians — for good reason, because we expect to be manipulated by people running for office. How far are we willing to be manipulated? Think about the following example:

One now-famous section of the House bill on health care reform talks about doctors counseling patients on end-of-life issues. This counseling is optional, at the patient's choice, if individuals want to decide, in advance, about treatment and care they want at the end of their lives. This section has been morphed out of recognition to resemble something diabolical, dubbed death panels. Sarah Palin describes these panels as bureaucrats who would decide, based on how productive a patient is, how much health care he or she would get. Palin uses her parents and her handicapped son as examples of potential victims.

A quick look at factcheck.org confirmed Palin's interpretation was a complete distortion of the bill. Could it be that she intentionally misrepresented it?

Is there any other way to look at this besides a scare tactic targeted at seniors and parents of handicapped citizens? These are two of our most vulnerable groups. A politician who would set out to scare these groups (by misleading them) to do what? Bring the opposing political party into disfavor? Is this going too far?

We must arm ourselves against disinformation. Statements or rumors that sound odd, like death panels, should be taken with a liberal dose of factcheck.org, several times a day as needed.

— Lura Lee Landis

Colorado Springs

Positive sign

Fear-mongering among the elderly is dreadful and irresponsible. I'm 75 years old and believe that health care reform will mean cheaper and better care. As a nation, we can't afford this broken system any longer when businesses and working people are crippled by out-of-control insurance costs. I was at a so-called town meeting last week and was pleased to see so many people who vigorously support change.

— Elaine Freed

Colorado Springs

Down on Obama

As a conservative independent I did vote for Obama, believing him to be a pragmatist, and believing his ambition to be a two-term president would keep him a centrist. In light of passed legislation and how this health care proposal is being thrust upon the American people, I am changing my mind.

My personal choice is to keep government out of my life as much as possible. My husband and I have worked hard to make that goal a reality. Whenever I have had to deal with government bureaucracy, I have always regretted it. To see Obama, in my opinion, clandestinely bring government more into our private lives, makes me and millions of other Americans furious. When Bush was at the helm, government was a dirty word for Democrats. Now they just can't get enough.

I am sympathetic of the need for health insurance reform: make it illegal to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and let people keep their insurance regardless of employment, etc. Perform a lumpectomy on the diseased parts, not a double mastectomy. I didn't want to attach a motive to this whole health care reform debate, but as facts come to light I can't help but believe the far left is relishing in this opportunity.

— Sheilah Shapiro

Manitou Springs

Check in the mail

Duane C. Slocum's letter ("A different prescription," Aug. 27) contains the usual aspersions cast on government programs (Postal Service, Medicare, Social Security, etc.) as he attempts to paint any government health care as ineffective.

Given the total volume of mail handled, including millions of pieces of business mail each day, the Postal Service does an outstanding job, better than any private concern could do. Never, in all the decades I've used the Postal Service, have I had one bill missent, or late.

Social Security continues to be among the most popular federal programs. Widows, the disabled and most elderly are foursquare for it, as it has immeasurably added quality to their lives. Its administration operates at management costs far less than most private conglomerates, and it is highly efficient in dispensing checks.

Medicare continues to serve the needs of over 36 million seniors who otherwise would likely be uninsured because of their declining health issues. I still recall the bozo at one town hall yelping: "No government takeovers ... and keep your paws off my Medicare!"

Medicare clearly can work, as can a public option, once we allow government to do what the VA does: bargain for low drug costs. Its solvency can be prolonged if the private Medicare "Advantage" programs (set up under George W. Bush) are eliminated. A GAO report shows these bled off $12 billion more than standard Medicare last year.

— Phil Stahl

Colorado Springs

Town hall review

As a constituent of Rep. Doug Lamborn, I was disappointed with his comments he made during his Aug. 27 town hall and chaotic setup of the meeting.

It was supposed to be about sharing ideas and opinions with constituents. He chose to stoop to being untruthful and misleading.

• He said the health care bill includes a provision for death panels. He actually used those words! This, being complete fiction, is a moral failing on his part. To represent it as true is unconscionable.

• He used misleading figures from the Lewin report that erroneously distort the number of people who would gain health insurance under the bill. The total of insured Americans would rise.

• He used material from his flier, paid for by the taxpayers, to illustrate these and other inflammatory distortions.

It was clear, upon arriving early, those close enough to hear him were cherry-picked supporters (see "Town hall blues," Noted). I don't understand why a microphone wasn't considered.

Health care change should not be debated primarily with scare tactics. It should be about having an intelligent discussion among different viewpoints.

— Becky Truelove

Colorado Springs

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