John Kinkaid: Candidates’ plans raise concerns
After reading the city council and mayoral candidates' plans for the city in the Craig Daily Press, I'm pretty concerned about the future of Moffat County and Craig, specifically.
It seemed like there was a common thread running through all of the candidates’ answers: Build a recreation center and raise our taxes to pay for it. That's after already raising the city sales tax recently. Now, the candidates want to raise taxes again for a recreation center or rec district, that we may not be able to keep the doors open on. It's one thing to get grants and build something, but it's a whole other thing to be able to pay for operations, maintenance, and mortgage payments.
As an aside, Yampa Valley Electric has raised rates twice now in just over a year. My monthly electric bill will be $180 for the next year. A little here and a little there adds up for people. Every week, I work with people who are just barely getting by, by the skin of their teeth. The city should not make the burden worse. We've already seen an increase in trash rates. The new water treatment equipment will likely increase water rates, as well. Just a guess.
What happens when the Hayden Station shuts down and people move or have to cut back on their expenses? Xcel Energy has stated that they intend to close (and profit from) the closing of all of their coal-fired generation power plants.
What happens when Craig Station shuts down Units 1 and 2 under pressure from the feds, the state, and the co-owners? There will be fewer of us to pay the bills to keep government services running. It's likely that our population is going to drop in the next several years. It could easily hit 11,000 in Moffat County.
We should keep working on creative ways to keep the libraries and museum open for business (without raising taxes). That's the priority.
I just don't see how opening a rec center is a prudent financial decision given our present economic forecast. Sure, it would be nice to have a recreation district and a nice rec center, but at the present time, we have an economic contraction staring us in the face. Taking on a large financial obligation is a bad idea at this time. I just don't see how the math works without an undue burden on taxpayers. Am I wrong?
By the way, I'm still hoping and praying for a serious miracle in Moffat County! We could really use a break.