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Entries in Grand Valley Transit (4)


BIG Government's appetite for Fossil Fuels!

VetTheGov just returned from a trip to Australia and was dumbfounded by the hypocrisy of its government regarding pollution and energy consumption. Australia is definitely the poster child for how a government controls pollution from its businesses, citizens, and visitors, right? Think again! Be on the lookout as the United States is watching Australia closely so they can bring forth their Cap & Tax scheme soon!

VetTheGov read an interesting article while in Australia regarding the governments Do as I Say not as I Do energy policy and consumption. When your government becomes the leading employer, largest asset owner, and dictator of all policy, they can't help but be the leading energy user. What's interesting to note is that the environmental justice groups are beginning to focus their attention on government. Surely a move the government was hoping to deflect with all the renewable energy programs implemented on the backs of the taxpayers. Australia lead the way with wind energy but look at all the hassles they now face such as noise pollution! Note: When walking around all the larger cities in Australia it was difficult to avoid all the second hand smoke. It appears Australians love tobacco and the government is enjoying the tax benefit! Also take note of the heavy handed fist used by the government to curb social behavior! If this is the case for tobacco then why aren't they using the same tactic to combat AIDS???

Industry specific areas of Australia seem to have different standards placed upon them. For instance, VetTheGov passed a sugar mill complex and couldn't help but notice two large smoke stacks spewing dirty pollution from them. See picture below! This is a $1.75 Billion dollar industry for Australia and no doubt the government is looking for new revenue streams from this industry. No Worries is a favorite saying in Australia and the government uses this to their benefit as you will see by the coming Carbon Tax soon to pass in the next couple of weeks.

Bringing this full circle back to the States and locally in Colorado, our government is consuming so much energy that the fight against the energy producers will intensify. In case you need more evidence of the energy used by government here is a great breakdown of the Department of Defense daily dose! Quick breakdown for those not reading the link: 2009 consumption of delivered 932 Trillion Btu's cost $13.3 Billion; emitted 73 Million tons of CO2; Use 360,000 barrels of oil daily.

For an idea of local energy government expenses, Mesa County spent $236,544.87 in energy and fuel related expenses in April 2011 alone. If you multiply over an annual basis this equals over $2.8 Million in energy cost! This total does not include all other related expenses such as air travel and travel reimbursements. VetTheGov must point out cost for the social justice program GVT which had cost of fuel and service fees from local tax dollars in April alone of $148,714.08. The City of Grand Junction uses somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 Million annually! If we add in all the school district and State government energy expenditures you can you see how quickly the need for Fossil Fuels arise for our government. 

So the question of the moment once again is the government concerned with your usage of energy more than they are concerned with their own usage? VetTheGov believes government wants you to curb your very small appetite for energy because they need more than you! Remember the next time you hear a story on energy, it should directly relate back to our government's use rather than yours! 


2011 City of Grand Junction's Balanced Budget...Really?

"Compel us to run a balanced budget?" This quote can be found on the City of Grand Junction's budget overview here. VetTheGov digs a little deeper for a more realistic idea of where your tax dollars are being spent.

The City of Grand Junction has voted to spend $147.2 Million during the 2011 fiscal year compared to Mesa County's 2011 budget of $140.9 Million. Of the $147.2 Million, 38% or $55.6 Million is cost of employees Pay & Benefits which is currently at 631 Full Time Employees (FTE) and been kept the same as 2010. This is an average of $88,500.00 per FTE but not a true across the board breakdown. 48% of the 631 FTE's or 302 FTE's are law enforcement positions, 217 FTE's are general fund positions, and 110 FTE's are associated with enterprise funds.

Click here to see a powerpoint overview of the 2011 budget. While it certainly includes cuts in positions, it also shows an increase in fees which in reality is code word for an additional tax whether in the form of a parking ticket, speeding ticket, sewer tap, or use of a public facility. VetTheGov noticed that overall in the 2011 budget shows a total loss of ($23.4 Million) for the year, yet the city still maintains its $20 million just in case fund.

Highlights of the budget show total revenue projected at $124.6 Million and total expenses at $147.2 Million. Does this sound balanced? Well Yes, if you are the city government and keep $20 Million in reserves then they can fudge everywhere else.

Here is a quick list of losing programs in this years budget minus the politically correct handling of the homeless population by the Police as many would consider the police force a winner in regards to their new and improved relationship! Along with the new $12.3 Million dollar trophy building and furnished tents this should help improve tensions between the homeless and local law enforcement!

Vacation & Convention Bureau loses ($62,500) and has $733,512 in employee cost and another $1,025,042 in operating cost. This program generates in revenue from Hotel taxes, so the question is why is this losing? It's no wonder the city pays close attention to hotel receipts! Why are the taxpayers allowing this to continue especially when the city is paying over $125,000.00 annually for the VCB website? Looks like there are great travel benefits for some of the employees!

Solid Waste removal loses ($165,581) and carries $1,028,742 in employee and benefit cost and $2,224,572 in operation cost. Worthy to note expenses related to dump and recycling fees to the landfill of $1,088,137 and $99,194 in fuel cost.

Two Rivers Convention Center breaks even this year but VetTheGov must note some cost associated with the convention center. $1.2 Million for full and part-time employees and benefits, $18,045 telephone bill, and $217,665 in gas, electric, and utility cost. Side note: Remember the government tells you to conserve energy, but are they? Seems hypocritical to VetTheGov when they are the number one consumer for utilities but the government blames you for your lifestyle utility choices! 

The swimming pool fund makes $1.00 this year. But interesting to note from the powerpoint presentation page 14 slide labeled Model #2 that the Orchard Mesa pool will close for the summer if revenues further decline. Also budget shows $102,000 in energy and utility cost. Question: How can they close something the tax payers are already funding? On top of that how can they add fees to programs already being funded by the general fund tax receipts?

Parking Authority Fund (Parking tickets and meter revenue) would normally make money for the city, however they have some debt repayment that makes them lose ($102,707) this year.  

Ridges Irrigation Fund budgeted to lose ($44,561) which carries employee cost of $96,470 and electric cost of $100,000.

The controversial ambulance takeover is yet another loser for the city of ($34,699)! This fund carries just under $1.8 Million in employee and benefit cost and looks like the city is burying the fuel cost in another fund. 

The Joint Sewer System Fund is the biggest loser this year at ($3,419,432). Carries just over $2.8 Million in salaries and benefits, $570,000 in electric and gas cost, and $272,000 in landfill cost.

VetTheGov must mention the city's contribution from the General fund to the losing social justice program Grand Valley Transit of $419,885.

VetTheGov found in comparing budgets from 2010 to 2011 the city increased the budget on paper from $152.9 Million to $167.3 Million which is a 10% increase during difficult times! Now if you use actual spent dollars of $121.8 Million from 2010 and compare to this years budget of $147.2 Million you get an actual increase of 17%

VetTheGov hopes this information is helpful in following your tax dollars and how they are spent. Hopefully you are receiving great services from your local government and feel you are getting your monies worth! Ask yourself why do the fees keep getting increased on top of paying taxes? Ask what happens if they run out of money? Will they switch off your waste pickup? Will they portion water? What VetTheGov is asking is will the city hold you hostage for services? The city already uses the media to increase fees by threatening cuts to these major services. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look into our BIG out of control government spending habits!


Mesa County Grand Valley Transit exposed! Part 2

VetTheGov recently spent some time riding a couple of routes. Here are some of the conversations we had with several riders and one route we took even had a Deputy Sheriff that works the buses off duty for safety reasons. We spoke with the Deputy of why they ride the buses and he mentioned it was a grant from Homeland Security due to threats against city transit by terrorist groups. The deputies ride four hour shifts mostly during higher riding days and is extra pay for them.

The day started at the Albertson's pickup location on route 11 that goes to the mall and back and then downtown to the transfer station. There was a male passenger at the stop who was wearing a GVT badge of some sort and we asked him if he worked for GVT.  The man stated he was wearing an annual bus pass and paid $87.00 annually for the pass.  We made the :15 past the hour bus that headed towards the mall first. The bus had eleven passengers on it when we climbed on.  

During the ride and observing the passengers most appeared to be homeless people. There was an exchange in front of us where an individual traded a full sub sandwich for just one cigarette. Where are the social justice police when you need them? We arrived at the the mall and everyone on the bus stepped off. They all huddled around the entrance to the mall and shared some cigarettes. Three people entered the bus for the return trip back towards Albertson's. The entire trip took over 40 minutes to make it back to where we first started. However our intentions were to make it to the downtown transfer station so we stayed on. Our next stop was just past the Colorado river where we picked up another homeless person who smelled of campfire. On to the transfer station with only two other passengers. 

Once at the transfer station we made it onto the route 5 bus which runs down North Ave. all the way to the Clifton transfer station. This was the largest of buses and most ridden bus for GVT. On the bus we spoke with several riders. One of the riders rode the bus to his workplace and he mentioned he was on a work release program. The rider paid 4.00 monthly since he was on work release and didn't like several things of having to ride this particular bus. He didn't like the inconvenience of the route having only one bus. He didn't like the fact he had to arrive to work 40 minutes before his shift in order to not be late. He also mentioned the buses stopped at 7 PM and he was unable to get home after work. Lastly he mentioned the bus did not travel on Sundays which seemed to be a huge inconvenience for him.

Another rider mentioned he was also on a work release program but currently had no employment. This rider received a free pass and had to make three contacts with potential employers during the day to receive the pass. 

We spoke with an anonymous source who rode the bus often and had many insightful observations for us. This source mentioned that most riders receive free passes for the bus since they are homeless and stay at the local shelters downtown. These homeless ride the bus to go eat and buy alcohol and basically use the bus to keep warm and have their social time together. We spoke with one 27 year old who used the bus to attend treatments for his emotional conditions and AA meetings. This person was on SSDI and stayed at an assisted living arrangement here in Grand Junction.

VetTheGov continued to learn that there was a single parent with a couple of kids that rode the bus to get to work and back. This single parent paid full price for the bus in order to support her family. We noticed that most of the riders had passes of some sort as not much money was ever placed into the payment box in the front of the buses.

The other main riders on the GVT system are high schoolers going to a school outside their district. The bus system works well for the kids since they begin so early in the morning and drop off near Grand Junction HS. With this demographic also brings trouble and we learned that drug deals happen often on these buses hence the need for deputies and video cameras on the buses. There is another influence that was the most disturbing for us and that is the influence of the group Insane Clown Posse within Grand Junction. Here is a webpage that shows some of the culture and lyrics used by this group/gang. This gang uses the bus as their mobile facebook and typically sit in the rear of the buses. They discuss how to use the government systems for their benefit so they can leach off of the system. Most of them don't work and are between 17-20 years old. You can recognize them because they wear the ICP logo clothing. They also learn from the lyrics and culture that is becoming very influential over the youth of our country that you the taxpayer are supporting without even knowing you are. Here is a story written in Phoenix about this group which gives a little insight about the culture of these juggalos.


Mesa County Grand Valley Transit exposed! Part 1

What does it cost to run well over 25 public buses in the Grand Valley? After spending many days going through multiple government website financial information, VetTheGov has discovered a large amount of local, state, and federal tax dollars being spent on a losing proposition for the community.

Under the TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) Mesa County receives Federal and State grants for the Grand Valley Transit (GVT) public bus system. From 2008-2010 the local tax payers have spent $5,191,932.00 for the GVT. For the 2011 budget alone the local taxpayers are on the hook for $2,582,500.00 and then the program receives another $5,760,000.00 from State and Federal grants.  See all funding numbers here! 

Click here for 2010 transportation funded grants.  Here is the County's justification study! The social justice/social equity/environmental justice found on pages II-3 and II-4 bring up many interesting questions in regards to fiscal responsibility to tax payers. In reading further in the justification study you will find it is derived from an original study used for the U.S. Forest Service and is now used for local transportation impacts. They use what is called the ripple effect. We will try and explain this process in layman's terms. 

Let's take your personal vehicle that you use for work and personal use and add the government ripple effect plan of how it impacts the local community. Hypothetical scenario will use a 25,000.00 vehicle and an annual salary of 55,000.00. This one vehicle and worker using the ripple effect now becomes responsible for every job and salaries at their work, the car manufacturer, the car dealership, the local gas stations, insurance companies, and everywhere they spend their 55,000.00 earnings and yes even their taxes for local, state, and federal employees and agencies. The return on every dollar they spend is off the charts. This is how the government we elect redistributes your tax dollars and tries to justify using the ripple effect.

Here is the link to the Federal Transit Administration which explains the grant programs being used by Mesa County. This site is where you will find what these individual FTA grants are used for and how the Federal government tentacles reach into local neighborhoods. As noted in the funding numbers the following grants are being funded in Mesa County: FTA 5307, 5309, 5311, 5316, and 5317.

In the latest article on the GVT it states they hope to reach ridership of 980,000 by the end of the year. This breaks down to 3192 daily riders since they do not operate on six holidays and Sundays.  If we use current $1.00 per rider per day this equates to $980,000.00 in potential revenue.  If we use 2011 projected budget amounts of $8,342,500.00 less $980,000.00 we have a loss of $7,362,500.00. It is hard to imagine any private sector business could keep their doors open with these types of loses. In reading the GJSentinel article the Sheriff's office has assigned deputies to ride the buses. Could this be where the school resource officers were reassigned after budget cuts. This is another example of being stuck with a government service that effects budgets in other areas of greater concern. In this case you see the bus system is of greater importance than safety in our schools.

In breaking down the spending in more detail, VettheGov located the last spending report from Mesa County's website. In line items 185170 and 185165 you will see the monthly expense from the County's General Fund for drivers and fuel for the GVT program totaling $174,770.93. This excludes any administrative or maintenance cost. GVT subcontracts the bus drivers from a huge multi-billion dollar company called First Transit locally but the main company Firstgroup is headquartered in the UK which bought out Laidlaw.

In reading through an onboard study located on Regional Transportation planning office website, the following reason was the highest score, "Passengers were asked the most important reason they ride the bus. As shown in Figure II-6, the top reasons for riding the bus are passengers who do not drive (46 percent) and passengers whose families do not have cars (1percent reported that the bus is a convenient way to travel)." Out of the 394 surveyed 110 were 18 or younger while 12 were over the age of 65. Over half of the riders earned under $15,000.00 annually.  

So here is an idea! Of the 7.3 million in loses, we could purchase vans for each government agency such as work release and hire a driver to transport these individuals wherever they needed to go and save tons of money doing so.

In regards to getting individuals to work, why isn't the burden on the employer? What happens when the grant funding stops? Why doesn't the government tell us why they keep these losing programs?