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Viewpoints The A-13 Park Record. Wed/Thurs/Fri, August 22-24, 2018 editorial Cheer loudly for our teams, but keep prep sports in perspective T guest editorial School district tax increase is remarkable display of chutzpa F. JOSEPH FEELY III Park City The Park City Board of Education’s decision last Tuesday to increase local property taxes by $188.65 on a residence with a market values of $893,079, which is the average price of a primary home within the school district’s boundaries, needs to be looked at within the context of the increase of property taxes during the past few years. For property owners who do not live within the city limits of Park City, during the past four years (from 2014 to 2018) property taxes have risen 38.96 percent, with all of this year’s increase caused by the Board of Education. The increase is higher for property owners living within the city limits who have to pay for the purchase of Bonanza Flat, which many city residents now regret and consider a foolish extravagance. The Consumer Price Index has only increased 6.14 percent over the period from October 2014 through July 2018. Accordingly, we are looking at an increase in our property taxes which is more than six times the rate of inflation during the recent past. Things are likely to get worse for taxpayers in coming years when the county unveils its plans for increased spending and the Board of Education tries again to gain support for another school bond to fund building projects. Add to that the cost of purchasing Treasure for city taxpayers, and you have a perfect storm of property tax increases. If you go online and look at the details of the school district’s budget for fiscal year 2019, it is apparent that a substantial increase in staff is contributing to the increase in operating costs. This coming school year the number of school district employees is projected to increase 5.86 percent, with support services staff increasing 69 percent and special education instruction increasing 38.4 percent. These increases are hard to justify at a time when the number of students has only increased 1.5 percent during the past four years. Total local revenues supporting the school district for the coming year are projected to increase 17 percent, or $9,431,054, and $5.6 million of that amount comes from the property tax increase. If you dig into the details of the jargon-filled budget, you get the sense that the Board of Education is blowing off community concerns about the rising cost of government. There is a lot of community support for increasing the salaries of teachers, but not much support for increasing the number and cost of administrative staff. Why do we need more assistant principals, interventionists and a deputy superintendent, and why did we raise the pay of the superintendent by $65,000? The Board of Education has not built a convincing case for these expenditures. None of this augers well for the upcoming battle about the school bond, which is likely to suffer the same fate as the last school bond if the Board of Education submits a larger request than the one rejected in 2015. No matter how you spin it, a 17 percent increase in school district local revenues is a big increase, and the Board of Education’s lack of fiscal discipline is likely to anger the community. Instead of listening to community members’ objections to out of control tax increases, the Board has ignored this problem — basically throwing this new budget in the faces of the community, while claiming to be concerned about the increase in taxes. It is a remarkable display of chutzpa. letters to the editor Court conditions put players in a pickle Editor: The first thing I tend to get when I mention pickleball is: What the heck is that?!? I was introduced to the sport about a year ago by a friend who is a highly competitive player with a ranking of 4.5. The Park Record Staff PUBLISHER ....................... Andy Bernhard Editor ................................... Bubba Brown Staff Writers ......................Jay Hamburger Scott Iwasaki Angelique McNaughton Ben Ramsey Carolyn Webber Alder Contributing ............................. Tom Clyde Writers Jay Meehan Teri Orr Amy Roberts Tom Kelly Joe Lair Copy Editor ............................ James Hoyt Photographer .........................Tanzi Propst Office Manager ..................... Tiffany Piper Circulation Manager ............. Lacy Brundy Accounting Manager ......... Jennifer Snow ADVERTISING Classifieds/Legals ............. Jennifer Lynch Advertising Director ........... Valerie Spung Advertising Sales ................... Jodi Hecker Erin Donnelly Lindsay Lane Sharon Bush Production Director ..................Ben Olson Production .......................... Patrick Schulz I got started with the round-robin style of play that happens at the PC MARC. There are four permanent courts there, though there is an issue with the width of the fences. They’re too narrow — but at least they are permanent courts. Since this summer I’ve purchased a quality paddle and started playing on a near daily basis at the Willow Creek courts, the ones that were recently highlighted in an article here in The Park Record. Right now we easily get six to eight courts worth of people playing and waiting to play any given morning. Where we currently make use of two tennis courts that are rarely ever used for tennis to create four pickleball courts. The current problem is these are not permanent pickleball courts. So we have the same confusing lines that the rare tennis players complain about. Due to this, the lines have the pickleball setup offset way too close to the fence. This puts the fence-side players at a disadvantage in a game. I know all too well, being that I hit the fence every game I play fence-side. In the effort to balance the situation between tennis and pickleball players, as there is clearly a large ratio of pickleball players to tennis players in Willow Creek, it would behoove Basin Rec to re-appropriate the current tennis courts that have pickleball lines and turn them into eight full-sized permanent pickleball courts. As the current space would allow for this to happen. Why Park City isn’t being more forthcoming about the growing popularity of the sport here in town is disappointing. Jody Whitesides Park City he Friday night lights will illuminate Dozier Field once again when the Park City High School football team kicks off for the first time at home this season against Logan, capping the first week of school and marking the unofficial return of prep sports in Summit County. It will be a joyous occasion for the community’s sports enthusiasts. Along with football, the start of the school year ushers in the season for volleyball, cross-country, girls soccer, girls tennis and boys golf teams. There will be plenty of reason to root, regardless of whether your allegiances are with the Miners, the North Summit Braves or the Wildcats of South Summit. Before fans pull on sweatshirts emblazoned with their school’s logo and pack the stands, however, an important reminder is in order: Prep sports are just that — games played by high school students. It’s important to keep them in perspective. Poor sportsmanship in youth and high school competition has become a major problem across the country. For people who follow sports, it’s impossible to go a few weeks without reading about an incident involving unruly parents or fans — or athletes — somewhere in the country. While the situation has not reached the same fever pitch in Summit County, anyone who regularly attends games knows the sight of a parent berating a referee or coach or sternly talking to their child after a poor performance is far from unusual. Though such behavior is common, it remains unacceptable. Referees, in particular, often bear the brunt of the anger. What’s easy to forget, though, is that they are not professionals. The truth is high school officials are paid a paltry sum, sometimes barely enough to cover gas to get to the venue and a post-game meal. Like the fans and student-athletes, it’s a love of the game that brings them to the field. No, they’re not perfect. But they are doing their best. Don’t forget that the next time an official misses a crucial call late in the game. The athletes, themselves, also deserve some slack. There’s nothing wrong with fostering a competitive atmosphere. Contrary to the popular saying, it does matter who wins and who loses, and we should expect our student-athletes to play as hard as they can to help their teams come out on top. But they’re still just kids. Only a handful will play in college. Even fewer have a realistic chance to pursue their sport as a career. None, at this point in their lives, should be defined by what they do on the field. More important than whether they miss a clutch free throw or cough up a fumble deep in the opponent’s territory is that they’re developing camraderie with their peers and soaking in the valuable lessons participating in sports can teach them. That’s something to keep in mind this year during both victories and defeats. Hopefully, of course, there will be more of the former than the latter for our Summit County high schools. But even if that outlook ultimately proves too optimistic, let’s commit to keeping prep sports in the proper context and enjoying them only for what they are. guest editorial Even today, railroads still have role to play FORREST WHITMAN Writers on the Range Advocates for “Rails to Trails” often ask why we’re so determined to keep some of our little short railroad lines going. Two quick answers: We need them to fight forest fires in remote areas, and railroads can boost local economies. In Walsenburg in southern Colorado, for example, the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad only has 149 miles of track. It is often a cash-strapped route, abandoned by the old Rio Grande some years ago as unprofitable. Its route is incredibly scenic, though, traveling over 9,380-foot-high La Veta Pass. It might be a perfect bike ride. But this summer, the railroad has been proving its worth by helping to fight the huge Spring Creek Fire. Every day during the fire, 10 tanker cars were filled with water in Alamosa, Colorado, and hauled by train to near the fire lines. The railroad was closed beyond that point by the fire, but it reopened once the flames were quenched. The reopened line got those water tankers all the way over the pass and to the small town of La Veta. Firefighters were glad to have that water on the west side of the pass. This Spring Creek Fire is being called the third-biggest blaze in Colorado history. The little railroad is something of a hero for helping to fight it. The fire has also changed some people’s minds about the economy. People who never thought of the railroad line as very active or much of a boost to business soon noticed the impacts of the rail shutdown. Mines in northern New Mexico around Antonito, Colorado, were hurting because they couldn’t ship out perlite (a mineral used in landscaping and for erosion control) and lava rock. Potato harvest is underway, and freight cars are needed for that, too. Rails to Trails advocates have often said that trucks could replace railroads. But truck rates are increasing rapidly, and the loads this railroad hauls are heavy. Fertilizer comes into the valley over the pass from Walsenburg, and potatoes are shipped out to the rest of the country. Matt Abbey, a railroad manager, estimates that 200 to 400 jobs are idled when the railroad shuts down. Part of the reason the old Rio Grande Railroad abandoned this railroad was the tricky nature of hauling freight over La Veta Pass. It is steep by railroad standards, often a 3 percent grade, and the route over the pass is the highest in regular operation in the country, so of course there have been accidents. On the other hand, the crews working for this little railroad are experienced and dedicated. If anyone can get tank cars over to La Veta, they can and will once the pass is reopened. When the fire expanded, the line started to become clogged with rail cars waiting in Alamosa and at the other end in Walsenburg. Abbey said he couldn’t imagine things getting worse. Then they got worse. A key bridge at Sierra near Fort Garland burned down. The railroad worked hard to fill in around 900 feet of roadbed, then replaced the old bridge with culverts. A track crew was quick to lay new iron and ties. Over a century ago, the value of short-line railroads was obvious. They hauled water to fires. They supported local industries and farms. Trucks were never thought to be up to the heavy tasks involved, and they still aren’t. Trucks are very difficult to move on mountain roads or rough back roads, and they don’t haul the big loads efficiently. Meanwhile, tourist events along the Rio Grande line are hurting, too. The usually busy passenger train from Alamosa to La Veta isn’t running yet. Its dining car is one of my favorites, particularly for salmon and fresh scallops. Music lovers are also grieving the closure. They were hauled on excursion trains up to an outdoor stage at the town of Fir, where mainline acts perform. Peter Yarrow (an old-timer from the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary) couldn’t make it this year, but others will. Fir’s original caboose stage and dance floor remain intact, but the green room, which was filled with instruments, chairs and electronics, was lost in the fire. That includes the walls with their many years of autographs and funny sayings by artists, now gone. “Rails to trails” is a popular mantra and a good thing in its place, but it ignores fire season and the economic wellbeing of rural Western towns. We need our short-line trains, and the San Luis and Rio Grande in southern Colorado is one of those gems. The Park record Pulse Here’s a sampling of the conversation readers are having on our Facebook page. To visit the page, go to Facebook.com/parkrecord/. My message to the pickle ball community that frequents the public parks would be to follow the court sharing rules and be courteous. I think you will win more support for the cause to install pickle ball courts if you are not making the community around you so annoyed.” Phoebe Taylor Hailey, on article titled “More pickleball courts would elevate Park City as a year-round destination” Can we get some Summit County officers monitoring speed limits and road rage around our residential areas during that time (Powderwood, Crestview & Liberty Peak)? Please and thank you!” Dani Lo Feudo, on article titled “Kilby Road construction revved up just before school starts” Any plans to straighten Kilby or is everyone going to be driving like snakes down the road? Should be fun when snow is added in winter!” Sarah Bryant, on article titled “Kilby Road construction revved up just before school starts” Not hitting the ‘like’ button on this news but congratulations to him. I am sure all the other resorts under the Alterra Group will benefit from his leadership!” Teri Whitney, on article titled “Bob Wheaton, crucial ski industry figure, to leave Deer Valley Resort” I liked it better at the Canyons. More room, more central location.” Kelley McKone Epstein, on article titled “Park City Farmers Market plants seeds in its new location” The Park Record attained permission to publish these comments.