Glenwood street tax committee co-chair says campaign got too hot to retain small issues designation
A move to become a regular election issues committee and accept several large donations from construction companies in the middle of the Glenwood Springs street tax campaign was a “defensive” one, says the co-chairman of the Fix Our Streets Now committee.
“We were hoping to do it more grassroots, and keep it a small-issue campaign,” said Jonathan Godes, a Glenwood City Councilman who stepped up to co-chair the committee backing the 3/4-cent sales tax proposal.
The measure put forward by City Council at the recommendation of its financial and transportation advisory boards was meant to fund a massive $56 million city street reconstruction and repair program over the next 10 years.
The tax question and a related $16 million bonding question both failed as final balloting came in on Tuesday, by a 60 to 40 percent margin.
“When we found out we had organized opposition, our position changed and we could no longer continue to do it that way,” Godes said of the attempts to sell city voters on the idea on less than $5,000 — the financial threshold between a small-scale issue committee and a large one.
Godes said the breaking point came when the opposition Committee for Responsible Taxation sent out a mailer in early March that the Fix Our Streets committee felt it needed to respond to.
That’s when Mark Gould of Gould Construction put forth a $2,860 campaign contribution, and asked several other construction companies to help out, as well, Godes explained.
“At that point, we determined we could no longer be a small issues committee,” he said.
The committee had initially registered with the City Clerk’s Office as a Small-Scale Issue Committee (SSIC), under Colorado campaign finance laws, rather than a full Issue Committee.
Such committees are not allowed to exceed $5,000 in contributions, and also have different disclosure requirements.
After the threshold was surpassed on March 13, however, the committee had 15 days to notify City Clerk Catherine Fletcher of its intent to convert to a full issues committee, which it did on March 28. It then had five days to file its financial disclosure report, which happened to fall on city Election Day.
“It wasn’t like we designed everything around April 2,” Godes said of the way the timing worked out.
Originally, City Council had hoped to have the backing of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s ad hoc Community on the Move committee, which has gotten behind numerous other city tax proposals in the past.
When it decided in early February not to back the proposal, Godes said he and other members of City Council and the Financial Advisory Board decided to form their own committee to campaign for the tax.
According to financial disclosure reports filed with the City Clerk by the pro and con committees, Fix Our Streets ended up with contributions totaling $18,260, compared to $3,299 for the Committee for Responsible Taxation, led by former city councilman Ted Edmonds.
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct information about voting.