Thursday, February 15, 2007

How About a Property Tax Increase -- That Would Go Well With Your Latte!

Twice last week, Sarah and I were stuck behind the dull rumble of the snail's pace plodding parade of heavy equipment--with the exception of the cute, little Bobcat front loader leading the pack--that chugged down Tennyson, across 38th and beyond 46th. Mayor Hickenlooper's too much, too late so-called snow/ice removal effort was, as Sarah and I witnessed last week, burning up the bucks (in the aggregate, 5$ Million, at least), with impressive, manly panache. Yes, twice last week, there was the Bobcat, two graders (you know, the huge praying mantis things), a massive front-loader and two dump trucks and, of course, Sarah and me in the old Explorer taking up the rear.

Turning at 46th (on our way to Berkeley Park for our morning ritual), I wondered, of course, where the hell the expensive parade was going? Streets/gutters looked pretty clear to me. "Maybe over the next rise, Kemo Sabe," said I, to Sarah who was obviously cogitating the same thing as she sniffed the diesel-fume laden air as we turned away from the procession.

(Being intimately familiar with city contracts and the contracting process, I knew that the operators of all that equipment and the charges for the equipment itself, began the moment the parade commenced from wherever it was they had staged their equipment the night before. The maddeningly slow slog along Tennyson--I concluded--was costing a small fortune.)

Wishing I'd had my camera (it's never there when I really need it!), Sarah and I, on foot--rounding the east end of Berkeley Lake--saw the contracted armada we had followed to 46th, gaggled-up just a block away on the little street--maybe it's 47th???--that connects Tennyson with Lowell along I70. The Bobcat was working on a smidgen of ice at an intersection. The other equipment? Well, it just rumbled idly, awaiting the little tike's completion of that little task on that little street.


My recent rant with regard to Mayor Hickenlooper's decision to spend down Denver's General Fund contingency to the tune of between $5 to $10 Million (the total contingency is 2% of the city's total budget, or about $16 Million), for the purpose of providing the above-described too much, too late snow/ice removal taxpayer funded bombast, included the following speculation:

One wonders, of course, if--in spite of your [Hickenlooper's] almost certain reelection to a second term (God, knows why they still love you!), this too much, too late response to ice and snow removal is a cute little gambit that--political genius that you are!--provides the foundation for something dark and dangerous in the future.

I say "dark and dangerous" because I'm a home owner and do pay property taxes and, ahem, do not want to pay more property taxes. But, sir, do I see the beginning of some very dire writing on the wall that you and your minions are most likely discussing behind closed doors (without, one assumes, wafts of hot cigar smoke hanging palpable in that oval office on the third floor of the City and County Building. Perhaps the sweet smell of lattes permeate the room now.)
Ah, the Hick is becoming so predictable. Comes Lou Kilzer's column in the February 9th Rocky Mountain News, where we're told: "Denver should raise property taxes for the average homeowner by $61 a year if it hopes to maintain, expand and build vital city structures, a panel formed by Mayor John Hickenlooper has concluded."

Kilzer goes on:
"Without at least $27 million a year in new tax funds, the city will fall hundreds of millions of dollars short of what it needs to maintain basic city assets, according to the panel's report obtained by the Rocky Mountain News.

"The group of 10 business and civic leaders reached a grim conclusion: If voters turn down the increase 'there will not be sufficient funds to address the deferred capital rehabilitation and maintenance needs and there will be no new funding available for expansion, upgrades or new projects beyond current levels."
Hickenlooper's cast of thousands who serve on blue-ribbon committees, task forces, advisory councils, special commissions, this and that and the other feel good assemblages of the usual suspects who can be relied upon to prop-up Hizzoner on that lofty foundation of big money, big egos, big--let's save the world, essential city services be damned--ideas; yes, Ol' Hick surely stirred his latte--a wonderful beam of a smile across his face--as he felt his bowels wrap themselves around the "...grim conclusions..." of said " and civic leaders..." Yes, what joy it would be (for a politician) to have a pot of green--" least $27 million a year..."--to spend, not according to the public weal, but according to the priorities of the politicians. Suffice it to say, a property tax increase would accrue to the city's General Fund, where, yes, it would be left to politicians to allocate monies to projects that would generate the most prolific political hay from, yes, once again, the usual suspects who infest this mayor's administration like bees to a hive. Got Honey!

Take, for example, Kilzer's piece (in the ever-shrinking Rocky Mountain News), which showcases the need to accomplish a "do over" for the Boettcher Concert Hall. Yes, Kilzer uses several paragraphs to explain an estimated $100 million is required to rebuild the concert hall because-- Jack Finlaw, the director of the city's theaters and arenas division, reports--"...too many compromises were made when Boettcher...was built in the 1970s." The problem with Boettcher: the sound from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra disperses itself inappropriately, 'cause the hall-in-the-round is not immediately enclosed, because it was originally meant to be a multi-use space, not just reserved for the orchestra. I agree that the sound in Boettcher sucks. The orchestra performs well, but the sound meanders and, therefore, one's symphony experience is compromised. But, $100 million?

Dare I mention that the disgusting negligence of Denver's parks alone amounts to an estimated $100 million? Yet, Kilzer devotes one line to Denver's parks; a line that notes Hizzoner's "...civic and business leaders..." have identified $10.5 million for "Park improvements" and have placed that line item on a "wish list."

Then there's the case of the fifth floor of Denver Health Medical Center being included as one of the pressing needs that a property tax increase would alleviate. Wait a minute. Denver Health is an independent (under state statute) authority, which it's half-million-dollars-a-year CEO, Patty Gabow, touts as being the shining model of a totally in-the-black (as opposed to financial red), public entity that, because it was able to break away from the onerous bureaucracy of the City and County of Denver in 1996(?), is self-sustaining and ridin' high. Well, hot-damn! then, Ms. Gabow, whadaya doin' lookin' to the city, the taxpayers of the city to hand over $5.8 million to redo the 5th floor of your independent (from the city), health authority? I'll bet you've just become a little too fond of the city's continuing--in spite of your "independent" status--funneling tens of millions of dollars a year into your totally in-the-black operation. Right? Just makes sense, huh. I mean, this year the city's General Fund in handing over about $43 million to your totally in-the-black operation. Why shouldn't the city redo your 5th floor, then? Makes sense to me. NOT!

Well, I could go on. But, to what end?

Listen, sales taxes are regressive. (Yeah, I know, that didn't bother the Hick with his pre-school thing, last May!). The necessity to space substantial bond issues to every 7 to 10 years just ain't cuttin' it. Property tax increases are probably the most distasteful of all tax increases. (Ya'll on fixed incomes know this better than I.) But, what the hell are we going to do? The city's infrastructure is crumbling to the tune of what some estimate currently sits at about $1 billion. What the hell are we going to do?

Yet, Hickenlooper fiddles; sending kids to pre-school, ending homelessness, attacking snow and ice a wee bit too late for a wee bit too much; basking in the "genius" of his Parks and Recreation Department (read Kim Bailey) restarting those wonderful, pretty fountains while they, Parks and Recreation, can't even water the lawn because the irrigation infrastructure is gone, kaput! I could go on, but what's the use.

I don't know. I'm just some nut who posts to a blog. (Sometimes with a smile: ; - ] )


Anonymous said...

Denver Health is building left and right, without any help from the City. Gabow is a cunt. We hear that the recently retired City Finance cunt is moving over to the Health Authority as well. The New Webb Building. At least they are not under the oppresive burden of the City's repressive and inefficient central purchasing department. Would that DIA were. It's the only thing holding Denver's Airport from reaching truly great heights!

Anonymous said...

Denver Health is building left and right, without any help from the City. Gabow is a [expletive deleted]. We hear that the recently retired City Finance [expletive deleted] is moving over to the Health Authority as well. The New Webb Building. At least they are not under the oppresive burden of the City's repressive and inefficient central purchasing department. Would that DIA were. It's the only thing holding Denver's Airport from reaching truly great heights!