Glenwood tax renewal headed for fall ballot
Confident based on recent polling results that show Glenwood Springs voters would support extension of a special city improvements sales tax, City Council on Thursday took the formal step to reserve a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The city will seek a 30-year extension to the 1-cent sales and use tax, known as the acquisitions and improvements fund tax.
In addition, a second ballot question will ask for up to $54 million in bonding capacity to finance a range of projects aimed at improving traffic congestion, developing the confluence area and creating a “gateway to Glenwood” along the Sixth Street corridor.
The A&I tax, which for the past 18 years has funded such amenities as the Glenwood Springs Community Center, the City Hall building, trails and park improvements, is scheduled to expire at the end of 2018.
City officials and civic groups, including the Glenwood Chamber Resort Association’s Community on the Move committee, have been working in recent months to gauge public support and get a sense of the types of projects citizens would like to see funded over the next three decades.
A recent poll conducted on behalf of the city found that 81 percent of registered voters would be willing to extend the tax for up to 30 years.
If the tax extension is approved, the money would go for a variety of things, including helping to defray the costs of operating and maintaining the Frontier Historical Museum, the Glenwood Springs Arts Center and supplying grants for human services programs and special events.
A range of big-ticket capital expenses are also being eyed for use of the tax money without being specific to any one or even multiple projects.
But several projects were given high marks by those responding to the poll, including safety improvements to the Midland Avenue and 27th Street bridges, construction of the planned South Bridge across the Roaring Fork River to Colorado 82, and a riverwalk development at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.
“We’re really looking hard at what voters are telling us they want, and that’s really what this is all about,” Glenwood Chamber President and CEO Marianne Virgili said during a Thursday work session between Community on the Move representatives and City Council to hammer out the ballot language.
Voters are to be asked for bonding authority to help pay for the various bridge projects, the confluence development and improvements to the Sixth Street corridor once the newly aligned Grand Avenue bridge is completed.
Not on the list of specific projects that might be funded with the renewed tax is a performing arts center.
The city did a feasibility study five years ago that looked at building a performance theater onto the existing Community Center and enclosing the ice rink for year-round use as an events center.
However, at an estimated cost for construction of more than $20 million and a more-than $265,000 a year subsidy to operate the center, the city asked that supporters raise at least half the funds from private donors to pay for the construction. That effort has so far fallen short.
An earlier study determined that a stand-alone facility, possibly as part of the confluence development, would cost upwards of $46 million to build and $1 million per year to operate and maintain. Therefore, the performing arts center has not a project that has been high on the city’s list to pursue, given other priorities.
That’s not to say the city couldn’t seek bonding authority in the future for a specific project using acquisition and improvements funds, City Attorney Karl Hanlon said.
Tax proceeds could also be used to defray ongoing costs to run the Community Center, and generally for any capital improvements or property acquisitions for capital purposes. The special tax could not be used for water, wastewater or electrical system improvements, however.
Council is set to give final approval to the tax question at its Aug. 18 meeting.
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