Pro/con statements sought on RFTA ballot measure
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
How to make a pro or con statement
Any registered voter residing within the RFTA political subdivision who wishes to submit a pro or con statement on Ballot Issue 7A can do so via email or mail to:
Nicole Schoon, Designated Election Official
Roaring Fork Transportation Authority
2307 Wulfsohn Road
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which is seeking its first-ever property tax to maintain and improve the valleywide bus system, is accepting comments, both pro and con, to present to voters before the Nov. 6 election.
Ballot Issue 7A asks voters in Pitkin and parts of Garfield and Eagle counties whether a levy of 2.65 mills should be approved, in addition to the existing sales tax that funds transportation services from Aspen to Rifle.
The additional tax is being touted as a way to add service to the regional bus system, replace buses, improve bus stations and tackle other projects from Aspen to New Castle. It’s also seen as a way to relieve traffic congestion and boost mobility over the next 20 years.
Colorado’s TABOR law requires a notice be sent to all registered voters in the RFTA district before the election outlining the pros and cons of the proposal, as stated by supporters and opponents.
Those statements must include the person’s name and address and sent to RFTA by noon Sept. 21.
The RFTA board, at its Aug. 9 meeting, gave the go-ahead to refer the 2.65 mill-levy question to voters.
“The proposed mill levy is intended to maintain and expand levels of transit service, replace the aging bus fleet at about 14-year intervals, and provide funding for a variety of priority transportation projects,” RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship informed the RFTA board during a follow-up discussion at its Thursday meeting in Carbondale.
Originally, RFTA was looking at a property tax mill levy of 3.65 mills. But, after poll results came back indicating less support for the higher tax rate, the board decided to adjust the proposal downward.
“To fit within the lower projected estimate of property tax revenue available, the costs of some capital projects were reduced, and for some projects the proposed funding from grant revenues was increased,” Blankenship said in a memo to the board.
In order to adjust for the lower tax rate and still meet some of RFTA’s long-range planning goals, regular fare increases will be implemented in five-year intervals. In addition, the intergovernmental transit agency will try to squeeze an extra two years of life out of its buses, keeping them on the road for 14 years instead of the standard 12 years, he further explained.
RFTA joins a crowded fall ballot in Garfield and Pitkin counties, where numerous local tax questions are being posed alongside a slew of state ballot measures. In Garfield County, voters in the Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Grand Valley fire districts will be deciding on new and renewed taxes.
A scientific survey among RFTA district voters in June showed a new property tax was a toss-up, with 44 percent of respondents in favor and 43 percent opposed.
When the question was posed a second time, after some more information about the proposal was shared, support increased to 51 percent in favor and 40 percent against, with 9 percent undecided.
And, in an unscientific survey connected to an information mailer that was sent to 16,500 households over the summer, the support grew to 53 percent in favor to 34 percent against, with 13 percent undecided.
According to the RFTA tax campaign, which is going by the name “On Board with RFTA,” the proposed 2.65 mill levy would add $6.75 per month, or $80.95 per year, to the tax bill of a person with a home at an actual value of $500,000. It would add $64.04 per month and $768.50 annually to a commercial property with an actual value of $1 million.
More information about the proposal, at least from supporters, can be found at OnBoardwithRFTA.org.
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To level the playing field between those who pay sales and lodging taxes on nightly rentals and those who skirt them, the city is ready to take names and make them pay.