Preliminary poll shows support for RFTA tax

Scott Condon
Aspen, CO Colorado

ROARING FORK VALLEY ” Although half of Roaring Fork Valley residents believe that taxes are too high, two-thirds would support a sales tax hike to support expanding the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s (RFTA) bus service, according to a survey.

A survey commissioned by RFTA showed support was strongest in the upper valley, which has tapped bus service for years. About 76 percent of residents in unincorporated Pitkin County said they would support a 0.3 percent sales tax increase. Support was nearly identical in Snowmass Village and Aspen, at 70 and 69 percent, respectively.

The survey was conducted for RFTA by Frederick Polls of Arlington, Va. The firm contacted 400 residents of the towns from Aspen to New Castle as well as residents in Pitkin County and the local sliver of Eagle County. Only people identified as “likely November 2008 voters” were surveyed. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percent.

The survey was conducted earlier this spring when it appeared RFTA would seek a 0.3 percent sales tax increase. RFTA’s board of directors revised its plan Thursday and focused on a 0.4 percent increase.

The pollster reported there was surprising support for a 0.3 percent sales tax hike.

“Even 51 percent of those saying taxes are ‘too high,’ and 53 percent who have no RFTA rider in the household support this tax increase,” the polling firm said in a report to RFTA.

Favorable outlooks on the local economy and on RFTA’s bus service appear to have boosted the support to fund the agency’s expansion. The local economy was rated positive by 81 percent of respondents, while 17 percent had a negative outlook.

When evaluating RFTA, 79 percent gave it a positive rating, while 13 were negative. Similarly, 74 percent perceived RFTA as offering a good value, while 26 percent it was not a good value.

The survey showed wide variances in the perceptions of RFTA’s financial health. RFTA’s finances were ranked in “good shape” by 35 percent of the sample and “bad shape” by another 20 percent. Another 45 percent admitted that they weren’t sure.

The RFTA board of directors likely will place a question on the November ballot seeking a sales tax increase.