Committee mulls building support for forming RTA |

Committee mulls building support for forming RTA

Members of the Rural Transportation Authority steering committee brainstormed Tuesday about numerous obstacles that will need to be negotiated in order to create a tax base to fund mass transit in the valley and perhaps beyond.

Of utmost importance is getting all the valley’s communities to support the RTA, committee members agreed.

To date, Pitkin County, Eagle County, Aspen, Snowmass Village and Glenwood Springs have passed “resolutions of intent to participate in RTA.” Officials from Basalt, Carbondale, Rifle and Garfield County are scheduled to take up the issue within the next two weeks.

RTA organizers hope to gain voter approval for a $10 vehicle registration fee and .4 percent sales tax among valley communities to support a valleywide mass-transit system. The Roaring Fork Transit Agency, the bus operation that is the valley’s present mass-transit provider, is largely funded by Aspen and Pitkin County. It will face serious financial difficulties if the RTA is not established, RFTA officials have said. The RTA would place the burden of funding mass transit more equitably on the shoulders of all valley municipalities that use it.

The RTA steering committee – comprised of RFTA officials, elected officials and representatives from several of the counties and municipalities of the valley, as well as transportation consultants – has been working on the RTA for more than a year now, and yesterday discussed the RTA’s long-term objectives.

However, rather than solidify answers, the session raised more questions about the logistics of gaining communities’ approval, let alone approval from voters.

The RTA steering committee is tentatively planning to ask voters to approve the formation of the RTA in a special election in May. And if the first election is successful, the committee plans to ask voters in November 2000 to approve funding for the RTA, which is likely to be the .4 percent sales tax among participating municipalities, though a number of different scenarios were discussed.

In mid-January, the committee also hopes to hold a summit for elected officials throughout the valley to hash out any unforeseen problems before the officials go to their respective constituents to seek support. Committee members hope the summit will result in the formation of an intergovernmental agreement concerning the RTA.

With the first proposed election date next May quickly approaching, the committee agreed that more community leaders and citizens should be encouraged to participate on the steering committee. Furthermore, the committee, which had been meeting sporadically, agreed it should meet weekly if its plans are to remain on track and scheduled another meeting for Wednesday.

For more information about the RTA, log on at

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