Commissioners to vote on Horizons tax question
Moffat County commissioners will vote today on ballot language for a proposed mill levy increase for Horizons Specialized Services.
The referendum currently stipulates that if the tax increase passes, Horizons would have to ask commissioners for permission to hold any fund-raising or direct mail campaigns. The referendum also states Horizons will not request additional money from the city of Craig, Moffat County or the Moffat County United Way.
Horizons provides services including day care, housing, job training and transportation to people with developmental disabilities in Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Grand counties.
The proposed levy, 1 mill, would cost a homeowner with a $150,000 house about $12 annually.
Horizons serves 70 clients in Moffat County, including 40 adults.
Horizons has a mill levy increase on the ballot in Routt County, as well. Earlier this month, the Routt County commissioners voted to res-trict Horizons’ fund-raising campaigns in that county if the mill levy is approved.
“Basically, we feel that there are ‘x’ number of dollars in the human services world,” Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.
Monger said Routt County commissioners didn’t think it was fair for Horizons to ask for additional money if taxpayers approve a tax for the agency.
If the mill levy increase passes in Routt County, it would result in an additional $832,000 annually for Horizons. In Moffat County, the referendum would mean an additional $390,377 for Horizons annually.
Money from the Moffat County tax would stay in Moffat County, and Routt County tax dollars would stay in Routt County.
Horizons executive director Susan Mizen said that if the mill levy passes in Moffat County, the organization will not ask the city or county for additional funding.
But, Mizen said, other fundraisers still will be necessary.
“One mill in Moffat County and in Routt County won’t help us meet the needs of the waiting list indefinitely,” Mizen said.
There are 14 people on the Horizons waiting list.
At least one Moffat County commissioner opposes a res-triction on Horizons’ fundraising.
Commissioner Saed Tayyara said Monday he will recommend changing the referendum to allow Horizons to do fund-raisers and ask the United Way for money if they choose to.
“We do not have the right to tell United Way not to give them money,” Tayyara said.
Tayyara said he doesn’t think the commissioners should restrict who Horizons can ask for money.
“I believe in the free enterprise,” Tayyara said. “This is not our role, our role is to protect the tax dollars.”
Moffat County United Way executive director Corrie Scott said the commissioners should not restrict how the United Way distributes money without asking the United Way board.
“I would like for them to at least give the United Way the courtesy to discuss it with our board,” Scott said.
Scott said the United Way regularly gives money to Hori-zons. She plans to attend the commissioners meeting to give her opinion.
Moffat County Commis-sioner Tom Gray said Monday he wasn’t sure where he stood on fund raising for Horizons.
“I can see two ways of looking at it,” Gray said.
He said it doesn’t seem appropriate for Horizons to ask residents for additional money if they approve the tax and that it wouldn’t be fair for Horizons to use tax dollars to pay for fund-raising projects.
But, Gray said, he isn’t sure the commissioners have the authority to put restrictions on other organizations, such as the United Way.
Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com
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