Newsletter 3



Welcome to the third installment of my newsletter, where I bring you noteworthy developments and expanded context on the ever evolving issues I cover in my blog, Your Front Row Seat.”

Summer’s behind us and the beginning of cooler weather and vibrant fall colors, along with election season, ushers in a somewhat daunting, new energy. We all feel the power and pull of change in the air – it’s an opportune time to take a closer look at some local ballot initiatives!

We hate to hear the words ‘tax increase’ (NOT the kind of change we look forward to!), but there’s no escaping the fact that the three proposed mill levy increases on the ballot this November demand some thoughtful consideration. We, the voters of La Plata County, will determine and define, with our votes, what living in La Plata County will look like in ten, fifteen, twenty years and beyond. Let’s be prepared and informed – a good place to start is by taking a closer look at the ballot initiative 1A – Roads and Bridges – the dreaded infrastructure investment!

I’d much rather discuss e-bikes and investments in green space, parks, trails and recreation, but the inescapable fact is that our roads and bridges are deteriorating and solutions need to be found sooner rather than later. I’ll address the airport initiative, also on the ballot, in a future post.

I devoted a full length article to the roads and bridges ballot initiative, “Roads and Bridges Mill Levy Ballot Initiative” on my blog, as well as a lengthy post on this topic on my LinkedIn profile page.

I consider it a compelling issue because even as we enjoy lower prices at the pump, the decline in oil and gas production and profits is wreaking havoc on La Plata County’s budget, with oil and gas industry tax revenues to the County falling by 60% from 2010 to 2015. Not long ago, the oil and gas industry in our county subsidized 80% of our roads and bridges construction and maintenance. Today, funding for roads and bridges construction and maintenance falls dismally short.

Voters have a vitally important decision to make in November. Do we in La Plata County wait until our road and bridges are in desperate need of repair and then address the issue? Or do we take proactive steps now? While no one “likes” higher taxes, the proposed mill levy increase could be a solution to funding critical infrastructure needs for our roads and bridges. At some point we may determine this to be a worthwhile tax increase – or, alternatively, we may face a slow but steady deterioration of our roads and bridges, ultimately impacting safety, efficiency, serviceability, commerce and the overall perceived character and quality of life of our town.

Funding infrastructure is not inspiring – there’s no instant gratification and it rarely triggers a fascinating conversation – rather, it’s like making an appointment with the dentist. Do we recognize the value of preventative maintenance, dental flossing and having regular cleanings, or do we postpone, wait, and get the cavity filled later with a painful needle plunged into the back of the mouth?

We, the voters, will decide. Voters said ‘no’ in November of 2015. Will November 2016 be any different for the 1A – Roads and Bridges – ballot initiative? We will soon find out.

Here’s to being informed and involved!

Melissa Youssef

Blogger, Your Front Row Seat

Focusing on issues and initiatives significant to all who call Durango home.

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Published: September 27, 2016