The countdown is on

Bill Christopher, Crosscurrents
Posted 10/11/12

Let’s see. There are 26 more days of mudslinging, political rhetoric, political spin and promises which cannot be kept (just like in 2008) that …

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The countdown is on


Let’s see. There are 26 more days of mudslinging, political rhetoric, political spin and promises which cannot be kept (just like in 2008) that will be the message de jour for the American people. Like Sir Winston Churchill so appropriated stated, “… democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

In 1947, when he made this profound statement, would anyone in their right mind have thought or predicted that billions of dollars would be spent on the U.S. presidential campaigns?

What a waste of good money. Just think of all the constructive things that could be accomplished if the two main political parties and their candidates could see the light.

Oh, I know full well the argument about freedom of speech, but how many times do the campaigns have to run the same bloomin’ TV message to get their point across? I can’t wait for this constant bombardment of political ads to end! Be sure to get your mail-in ballot back to the county clerk’s office in a timely fashion.

Go figure

Adams County Assessor Gil Reyes just doesn’t get it. Hey, you got caught reducing assessed values that reduced taxes to some of your “buddies” who contributed to your last campaign. It’s that simple.

Now, Reyes is fighting with the state Division of Property Taxation over the new appraisals conducted on warehouse properties under the auspices of the state division.

He states that “Adams County does not accept the property value trends used by the state’s contractor.” This standoff between the state’s division and Reyes puts the 2012 property tax bills on more than 1,200 warehouses worth over $2 billion in a questionable state.

Something smells

Reyes is fighting for his political life and he knows it. No wonder he is fighting the state’s contractor and lashing out about its work.

Value West, a widely respected company that specializes in commercial appraisals and works with Colorado counties, calculated the values on the 1,200 properties.

Reyes’ office came up with a lesser value to the tune of $267 million less. This simply smells folks. When differing appraisals are this far apart, something is badly flawed.

If Reyes and the Division of Property Taxation headed by JoAnn Groff cannot find a middle ground and it is highly doubtful that this will happen, it remains to be seen what will be the next step. This is precedent setting in Colorado.

Groff speculates that the State Board of Equalization could step in and order a set of taxable values to take effect. Let’s make sure every property owner is paying a legitimate amount of taxes based on documented, unbiased property valuations and throw the buddy system out.

Listening to the people

It sounds like the governor and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) are listening and observing the uprising in the state over fracking regulations. City councils are taking tough stands on the issue to protect their residents. Petitions have been submitted to the tune of 14,500 signatures just from Adams and Pueblo county residents urging Gov. John Hickenlooper to protect their communities from drilling and ensure clean, safe water.

County and state lawmakers are hearing from constituents on a regular basis as well. Now, the COGCC is preparing to revise the state regulations governing oil and gas drilling. The state is proposing buffer zone restrictions on new wells and mandatory groundwater tests before, during and after drilling is completed.

However, some local government officials and environmental groups question if the state is doing enough. And the Colorado Oil and Gas Association “does not think there’s a need for rule-making” (changing the regulations). Surprise, surprise!

Precedent-setting lawsuit

The Longmont City Council recently adopted a more stringent set of regulations on oil and gas drilling operations. The state of Colorado is suing the city saying that the municipality does not have jurisdiction and that such regulations are the responsibility of the COGCC. This will be a classic case of a home rule city taking action in an arena previously governed by the state government.

I am speculating that the city of Longmont will lose its well-intentioned legal fight. Thus, all the more reason to get protection and adequate setback requirements via the state to give residents some peace of mind. More to follow.

Bill Christopher is former city manager of Westminster and used to represent District J on the RTD board of directors.


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