New Castle voters back RFTA |

New Castle voters back RFTA

Heidi RiceWestern Garfield County correspondent

New Castle voters overwhelmingly opted to keep a 0.4 percent sales tax in place to help fund the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Hogback route from Glenwood Springs to Parachute. The vote was 434-159 in favor of RFTA.By the end of this year, the tax is expected to collect more than $100,000 – exceeding the $62,000 voters approved last year. According to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, also known as TABOR, voter approval was necessary for RFTA to keep both the excess revenues and the current tax rate.RFTA officials say the excess collections are connected with higher-than-expected growth in the town. “At the time we put [the 2004 ballot proposal] together, we had no good way to know what [a 0.4 percent tax] would generate,” said Dan Blankenship, CEO of RFTA.RFTA can now keep the excess tax revenues in the amount of about $40,000 in 2005. With rising fuel costs, the agency has already had to increase its budget for next year by $500,000, Blankenship said.The Hogback service, which Glenwood Springs and New Castle currently subsidize, has seen a 15 percent increase in ridership this September compared to last.”This will help keep us operating in the black,” Blankenship said. “It’s not a tax increase – it was already approved. Life will go on.”

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