Tawnya Somauroo: Use tax: County’s wildfire mitigation tax is tone deaf
Thank you so much for your piece explaining that the use tax is an unnecessary burden on Marshall Fire victims.
I wish that Boulder County would take the hint. Instead of looking at ways to remove barriers to rebuilding, the county is instead proposing to increase the use tax via a new draft ballot measure directed to wildfire mitigation, emergency services and transportation. As such, the county proposes to add to the burden to pay for wildfire mitigation on the backs of people that opt to rebuild their homes after a fire disaster. Why should the people who lost everything in a disaster be disproportionately tapped to pay for fire mitigation, transportation and emergency services? Where is the equity in that?
It is shocking how tone-deaf the draft ballot measure is. Fire survivors have asked for use tax relief from the Boulder County Commissioners and learned that the commissioners have no interest in providing it. Superior has provided use tax relief. Louisville is working towards providing use tax relief. RTD is discussing it. State lawmakers are looking at ways to provide it. Only Boulder County, which has a record of very slow disaster recovery, is considering increasing its use tax, placing additional burdens on those that are struggling to rebuild.
Please help us bring attention to this issue! The county needs to understand that disaster resilience means getting families back into rebuilt homes as quickly as possible. That means removing barriers, not adding taxes that are disproportionately shouldered by the victims that lost everything in a disaster.
Tawnya Somauroo, Louisville
Jordan Koler: Environment: Support local government, reduce emissions
Colorado has some of the worst air quality in the world and people are starting to notice. People are reporting respiratory irritation and difficulty breathing — two things that are most certainly not normal.
In a recent article, Matthew Bennett with Prairie Mountain Media notes that local governments in the Boulder County area have begun to test their air quality, and the results are alarming. The amount of polluting particles in the air is rapidly growing, and residents living close to hot spots are experiencing symptoms such as vomiting, lung irritation and nosebleeds.
Something must be done; the health of Colorado’s residents is on the line. Bennett reports that “more than 100 people participated in [a] virtual meeting [on the subject], including several who implored the commission to do more to lower emissions across the state.” Fortunately, the city of Denver is already moving in the right direction.
Earlier this year, Denver passed two bills that aim to reduce tailpipe emissions — the number one cause of air pollution in Colorado. The first decreases emissions from school buses. Whenever a school district needs a new bus, the local government will step in to help pay for an electric bus to replace the broken, gas-fueled one. Another bill makes public transit free for the months of August 2022 and August 2023 — months with historically high air pollution. This fare-free August encourages commuters in the Denver Metro Area to use public transit, leave their cars behind, and reduce their tailpipe emissions.
If we take advantage of these opportunities and continue to support our local governments in taking steps like these, we can reduce tailpipe emissions and improve our air quality. By participating in programs like fare-free August, we can all breathe a little easier.
Jordan Koler, Denver
Emily Reynolds: CU South: City is focused on wrong mitigation area
Carol Calkins’ recent CU South letter is puzzling. The letter cites “critical flood protection for thousands of our neighbors” but ignores a 2014 City of Boulder report about the 2013 flood, which showed only 30% of the damage to Frasier Meadows came from South Boulder Creek. I believe a South Boulder Creek dam is one of the biggest drivers for CU South. Yet it’s the wrong dam, on the wrong tributary, in the wrong place. To “protect our neighbors,” the city should mitigate what caused 70% of their damage, not the minor element of South Boulder Creek.
Further, developing a campus in a floodplain will require thousands of tons of fill dirt to elevate the site — at the expense of Boulder households. Council cunningly called this a “fee,” knowing Boulderites might decline additional crushing taxes. City residents and businesses will have to significantly fund CU South’s expected $46 million cost through increases in our water bills, which, for some, have already tripled since 2008.
The letter incorrectly claims traffic concerns are “clearly addressed.” I believe counting car trips during 2020’s COVID lockdown produced a skewed undercount. Additionally, since that traffic study, CU enlarged CU South by 50%, from 500,000 to 750,000 square feet of non-residential space. There’s no traffic study on the 50% larger size, but it will inevitably generate more traffic than the previous 7,000 additional trips per day figure.
The letter is also incorrect about CU South’s onsite housing. Based on standard commercial real estate figures of 150 square feet per person, 750,000 square feet of space could draw 5,000 more students, faculty and staff to Boulder. CU is only housing 2,200 people at CU South, which could add 2,800 more un-housed people to Boulder’s already overstressed housing market, further escalating housing costs for all.
Vote yes to repeal CU South in November!
Emily Reynolds, Boulder