Glenwood tax renewal, bonding pass easily
Glenwood Springs residents gave an overwhelming vote of confidence in Tuesday’s balloting for extending a 1-cent public improvements tax for another 30 years and granting bonding authority for a range of projects.
Extension of the special acquisitions and improvements (A&I) tax passed with a 77 percent favorable vote, according to unofficial citywide election results.
The companion question seeking $54 million in bonding authority passed with a smaller but still commanding 67 percent of voters in favor.
“It just shows the mindset of the community and its progressiveness and desire to make things happen in a positive way,” said Dave Sheriff, who co-chaired the Community on the Move campaign in favor of the tax questions.
Proceeds from the tax will go to finance a range of transportation infrastructure improvements and downtown redevelopment projects over the next three decades.
“Transportation is a key issue for the city, along with the confluence development,” Sheriff said. “Whatever that looks like, I think we have a great opportunity to create one of the most phenomenal river confluences in the world.”
The A&I tax was first put into place after an election in 1998, including a separate $24 million bond issue. Over the past 18 years, proceeds have helped pay for such things as the community/recreation center, the city hall and municipal operations facilities, extensive raw water system upgrades, numerous trails projects and engineering work for what the city intends to be a permanent Eighth Street connection.
Extension of the tax will allow the city to pursue the Sixth Street and Roaring Fork/Colorado river confluence area master plans.
A host of infrastructure projects are also on the city’s long-term transportation master plan list, including completion of the Eighth Street connection, replacement of the 27th Street bridge and reconstruction of South Midland Avenue.
Some of the bigger-ticket projects for which tax proceeds could be used are the South Bridge connection across the Roaring Fork River to Colorado 82, and two other new vehicle bridges connecting Devereux Road and Midland Avenue near Two Rivers Park, and from 14th Street to Midland Avenue.
Glenwood Mayor Mike Gamba said the challenge now will be to prioritize the various projects and come up with outside money to help pay for some of the larger items.
“It’s critical that we take a really close look at all of these improvements and see how we can leverage those funds, and find partners to help reduce the city’s costs,” Gamba said.
“At the end of the day, we still have limited funds and we have to set priorities,” he said.
As it has for the past 18 years, the renewed tax will also continue to help defray operation and maintenance costs for the community center, as well as the Frontier Historical Museum and Glenwood Springs Historical Society, and the Glenwood Center for the Arts.
A key component of the new tax extension would be a “gateway” redevelopment along the Sixth Street corridor once the new Grand Avenue bridge is finished, including public gathering places, a pedestrian-oriented streetscape and potential for commercial redevelopment.
Although no formal opposition organized against the tax renewal, some detractors had criticized the proposal for failing to include a performing arts theater, which had been part of the original discussion two decades ago.
Tax supporters and city officials have said there’s nothing to preclude a performance facility from benefiting from future A&I funds, if a feasible proposal comes along.
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The Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District Board of Directors on Monday announced seven spring-cycle grants to local governments totaling $165,369.