Likely sources back RFTA’s expansion referendum |

Likely sources back RFTA’s expansion referendum

ASPEN ” People who help run the Roaring Fork Valley’s bus system are, perhaps not surprisingly, some of the main financial backers of an effort to expand it.

A campaign finance report filed Tuesday night by a political issue committee called Affordable Transportation Solutions shows that $3,000 in cash has been contributed by employees of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, members of its board of directors or companies that could directly benefit from the expansion of the bus system. Another $3,660 was contributed in “in-kind” contributions from the Denver firm that will underwrite a bond for RFTA’s proposed expansion if voters approve the proposal Nov. 4.

Voters from Aspen to New Castle will decide the fate of Referendum 4A. If approved, RFTA would be allowed to issue $44.55 million in revenue bonds that would be paid back through a 0.4 percent sales tax increase.

Affordable Transportation Solutions is a citizens committee that was formed to promote the ballot issue. Basalt Councilwoman and RFTA board of directors member Jacque Whitsitt is president of the political action committee.

The contributors included the following RFTA employees: President and CEO Dan Blankenship, $250; controller John Tangen, $100; director of maintenance Kenny Osier, $200; planner Kristin Kenyon, $50; attorney Tari Williams, $100; and communications director Sylvia Cranmer, $50.

Members of RFTA’s board of directors who contributed included Whitsitt, $150 and $22.36 in-kind; Glenwood Springs Councilman Dave Sturges, $100; Pitkin County Commissioner Dorothea Farris, $50; Eagle County Commissioner Sara Fisher, $100; and Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, $100. Ireland isn’t a regular RFTA board member but occasionally attends meetings as an alternate.

Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards contributed $400 of in-kind service to the campaign.

In addition to RFTA employees and board members, bus manufacturer New Flyer contributed $1,500 to Affordable Transportation Solutions, according to the campaign finance report filed with the Colorado Secretary of State. RFTA purchases some of its buses from New Flyer. If the ballot measure is approved, RFTA plans to buy 15 buses.

RBC Capital Markets of Denver, a firm working with RFTA on the potential bond issuance, contributed $3,660.35 in unspecified in-kind service, the finance report showed.

Other major contributors with no direct tie to the bus expansion proposal included the Aspen Skiing Co., $2,000; Alpine Bank, $1,500; Portland design firm David Evans and Associates, $1,000; and Sopris Engineering of Carbondale, $500.

Other individuals on the donor list were Basalt Town Manager Bill Efting, $25; Aspen assistant city manager Randy Ready, $100; and former Colorado Department of Transportation engineer Ralph Trapani, $250. Trapani works with a local nonprofit that promotes mass transit.

Affordable Transportation Solutions collected a total of $9,150 cash and nearly $4,100 in-kind contributions between Sept. 7 and Oct. 9, its report showed. It had previously collected $640. The group spent $4,082.71 on the campaign, leaving it with $5,122.63 as of Oct. 9.

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