Property taxes, rural representation key to Salazar's District 2 bidAug 10, 2012 By Martin Reed, Staff Writer
Dubois resident Tim Salazar, 52, pointed to a need for lower property taxes and better representation of rural areas as primary reasons behind his bid for Fremont County Commission's District 2 seat.
"I'm seeking office because, No. 1, I believe our property taxes in the second district are too high, and, No. 2, I believe that we need the rural representation," Salazar said.
"I live in Dubois, for instance, and I know that many in Dubois here feel they haven't been represented," the small-business owner said.
The commission's division into five districts, with each covering a section of the county, has helped with rural representation, he said.
"Redistricting is the best thing that could have happened to small towns like Dubois, Pavillion and Shoshoni because many people who ran for the county commission relied on Lander and Riverton for their votes to get elected. Now because of redistricting, Shoshoni, Pavillion and Dubois will have a much larger say," he said.
Salazar is seeking the Republican nomination for the District 2 commission seat in the Aug. 21 primary election against challengers Richard Denke, Larry Allen and incumbent Dennis Christensen.
Salazar said he understands issues facing communities in District 2, which spans the county's north side.
"For instance, I know that in Shoshoni the very important issue is going to be the issue of closing the landfill or the station there," he said. "And they have felt in Shoshoni their views have not been properly addressed by the county board. The same thing in Pavillion in regard to the water issue and also the projects in Pavillion that some believe the county should have had a greater financial contribution."
Salazar has a host of issues he wants to address as a commissioner, including private property rights and ensuring limited but responsible government.
"We're in a deep recession in this country. Washington, D.C., is broken; it's not able to fix itself," he said. "This recession is going to get worse before it gets better, and I believe that because of that, a greater responsibility is going to fall on local governments, particularly the county government, in finding unique solutions to unique problems in Fremont County.
"We have seniors on fixed incomes, we have young families whose bread winner is underemployed or unemployed," he said. "And there's a lot of struggle in family households on income. It is vitally important that county government live within its means. Our families are having to do that."
His top goal in office is addressing the county's budget.
"Currently we are at 12 mills, the highest rate that the county can legally tax our property owners," he said. "We've been at 12 mills for years, even though we're in a deep recession. I believe in zero-based budgeting, which means every line item in the budget must justify itself. There are no sacred cows in zero-based budgeting."
One budgeting concern for Salazar is the amount of money the commissioners themselves make, which is more than $120,000 for one term in office.
"Multiply that by five commissioners. That's well over half a million dollars to our elected officials," he said. "That needs to be trimmed. That needs to go back into the general fund, and that needs to go back to our taxpayers. In a deep recession when we have seniors on fixed incomes, for a county commissioner to make $30,000 a year for a part-time job, I believe, is not right."
If elected, Salazar will impose a salary reduction on himself.
"I guess I haven't come to that point, but I would definitely reduce it by 10 percent. It's a starting point," he said. "I have also made a commitment to impose on myself a two-term limit as county commissioner. I do not believe in professional politicians. I believe in citizen servants."
Salazar said his budget concerns are the driving factors behind his other goals in office.
"In order for us to lower our property taxes, to lower our mill rate, we're going to have to reduce our budget," he said.
Salazar is critical of the federal government's regulation of public lands.
"I am at the point I believe I would not be opposed to hauling the federal government into federal court to receive our equal rights of local control for our ... land usage," he said.
Salazar was born in Tucson, Ariz., and spent most of his life living in various areas for military service. He served the last 23 years as a U.S. Army infantry officer in the reserves.
He has lived in Dubois since 2009 with his wife, Shannon, and their 4-year-old son, Joshua. He and his wife own and operate Morning Star Children's Center in Dubois.
He is also active in the Fremont County Republican Party, Dubois Volunteers Inc. and the Lions Club, and he serves as commander of the Dubois American Legion Post and on the Upper Little Warm Springs Water District board.
"I believe in limited government, limited taxes and limited government intrusion in our lives," Salazar said. "Higher property taxes really destroy families and small businesses. I believe that lower property taxes create opportunities. I think that's something that should be reflected at the county board."