Consolidation and Resource Sharing
Alec described the challenges to reorganization of Summit County into a single governmental entity. As a “constitutional” county and not a “home rule” county, it does not have the authority to re-organize. In addition, the tax structure is an obstacle to consolidation, since the towns are dependent on sales tax for 80% of their revenue, while the county’s revenue derives from sales tax (1/3), property tax (1/3) and grants (1/3). Also, because of the large number of 2nd homeowners owners with property in Summit County but only occasional residency, it is valid to raise the question about whether or not they should have a vote over any re-organization.
Special districts have been created for various purposes (utilities, public services, schools) and they would have to be taken into consideration. Currently, the tax structure in the towns creates competition for sales tax revenue, something that detracts from eagerness to consolidate.
Our problem is not about county consolidation, but the major concern is about town dependence on sales tax revenue.
Jack Benson (Town Mgr. Dillon)
Local control is critically important and true throughout the history of Summit County. It must be protected. Urbanization is a problem, but how do we decide who is the last person allowed in the county? Careful expansion is necessary; the business of government is complicated. Our challenge is to balance what the public wants and what government needs to continue to provide services. Currently, most eggs are in the sales tax basket, meaning that tourists subsidize county and town services. Consolidation is an example of “Don’t fix if it ain’t broke.”
Bill Wallace (County
We should be concerned about urbanization. As it stands, decisions are driven by the need for revenues, sales tax driven. We need more of a balance with property tax. Town events are competing. Annexation limits influence and local control for residents living outside town limits. We have many examples of county jurisdictions working together: communication center; animal control; transportation. Development should be driven by what people want not by need for additional tax revenues. An example of possible consolidation where we could go astray is in police. How many police do we need for 26,000 full time residents and up to 125,000 weekend visitors? This is not a good place to look for efficiency. Don’t cut law enforcement.
Towns have statutory authority and responsibility to create 3-mile plans.
We should recognize that sometimes centralization is preferable, sometimes decentralization. Consolidation can cause problems and the “devil’s in the details.” One of our challenges is to increase citizen involvement. How can we get information out to constituents. People don’t show up unless they’re against something.
General discussion based on audience questions:
Doesn’t annexation just shift control from on government entity to another?
Up-zoning through annexation is always driven by desire to profit from investment. We live in a capitalist (free market) society. The value of land is determined by zoning. Note that the Constitution prohibits the taking of property through down-zoning. Beware creating a community where property is affordable only by the wealthy by restricting access through land use regulation.
What has driven consolidation in the past
Primarily considerations of efficiency.
What has blocked consolidation?
Loss of town identity and no obvious efficiency, e.g., formation of a recreation district is deterred by the capital investment a town has made. Water and sewer might be opportunities for consolidation.
Shouldn’t we expend energy on changing state property tax laws?
Consider as an alternative a county-wide sales tax revenue sharing based on a formula established by historical patterns—perhaps a 3 year pilot (Bill Wallace).
Towns would advise against such a scheme (Benson).
Barbara Davis – Mayor Dillon
Caution re: consolidation
Lou del Piccolo – Mayor
There is an axis of evil: annexation, development, big-box, and an axis of good: revenue sharing, controlled growth, efficiency. Voting on controversial issues may create more strife. Be cautious about letting things get out of control. People don’t come to Council meetings. Pressure to grow is inexorable. We are a resort economy with substantial population fluxes—this requires a level of inefficiency. “Efficiency” would require serious down-sizing.
Bernie Zubriggen—Mayor of Frisco
Our 4 unique towns make this a special resort area. Therefore we should exercise caution about consolidation. Purchasing is a possible area of consolidation. B. recommends we all read The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. In a global economy, less government may be more useful.
Bob French—County Commissioner
Consolidation has to be incremental. Consider a federal model for some services.
Howard Hallman—straw poll
Does some degree of collaboration make some sense? (most indicate assent), suggestions such as joint planning or joint facility maintenance.
Why not balance sales and property tax and get more revenue from 2nd homeowners?
Keep our autonomy—let’s not fight.