1A gets us on a better path for smart growth
By Jeff Post
When I look back 20 years from now, I would like to feel confident that we made every effort in Chaffee County to grow and develop in a smart way.
Voters will be asked in November to consider a small sales tax increase that will help maintain some of the things that we all enjoy. Voting Yes on this 0.25% increase, from 2.5 to 2.75 percent, will help us develop tools to assist landowners and recreational users to continue to have healthy land and water into the future.
It will also provide new options for us to address forest health and the wildfire danger that is hurting many people around the state and the West.
I personally want to see planned, smart growth in our rural areas as well as in the towns. This measure will help benefit our ranching heritage by providing options for current landowners to continue to operate ranches and farms under the pressures of today’s economic realities.
Right now, people working the land have limited options: they can continue to work the land and struggle with costs that outweigh income, they can do a conservation easement and permanently give up their property rights, or they can sell and develop. Voting Yes on 1A will provide them additional options.
Most local landowners want to continue to work their land but once it’s sold off and developed it’s gone, along with the scenic views, the groundwater recharge, the wildlife habitat and a part of our heritage. If we can keep our working lands in agriculture, it will help these landowners help us by protecting our water, land and open space in the valley.
This measure also will provide more options for public land managers and homeowners to create fire resilience in our backyard. And it will help us support our clean waters, fishery, wildlife, and outdoor recreation experiences.
I support and am working hard to address our housing challenge by making sure that people who work here can live here. In my mind, this is not an either/or proposition. We need to plan for growth in many areas, to increase density where it makes sense and at the same time, enhance the natural beauty in the county. The two should run hand-in-hand because we need to support businesses with housing but the employees are here because of the natural assets we have to offer.
Measure 1A would raise about $1 million a year, with 30% coming from county residents or about $40 a year per household. The rest would be raised through spending by our visitors and commercial business interests. I think it is a good idea to ensure that those who come here to enjoy our beautiful outdoors also help pay for it.
Spending under the measure would be done by the recommendations of a citizen advisory committee, and transparency and accountability would be accomplished through an annual independent audit, an annual report to the community, and a cap on administrative expenses of 5%.
I strongly encourage you to vote Yes on question 1A for Forests, Waters and Working Lands on Nov. 6, so that we as a community can do some proper planning now.
Jeff Post is a fifth-generation Salida resident, chairman of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation, and treasurer of the committee for Yes for Protecting Forests, Waters and Working Lands.