Political action group trying to get its half-cent in | PostIndependent.com

Political action group trying to get its half-cent in

They’re on the move again. While Community on the Move, a local political action group, has taken on such major community projects as the community center in the past, its latest undertaking is more modest – but essential. This time, the group’s goal is to convince city voters to support an extension of Glenwood Springs’ one-quarter cent sales tax and raising it to one-half cent. All in the name of maintaining city streets.The group, in conjunction with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, hosted a breakfast Wednesday to pitch the sales tax proposal to community leaders and business people.Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel played “Name That Street,” challenging people to name a series of pot-holed thoroughfares in Glenwood Springs.All of those, plus others equally in need of repair, would be funded if the ramped-up sales tax passes. The city needs almost $1 million to maintain its streets, Hecksel said. Currently, the one-quarter cent sales tax covers only a part of that cost, with $267,000 going to repay city debt, leaving $567,000 for street repair.The present sales tax expires Dec. 31.Last fall, city voters narrowly rejected a proposal to replace the tax with a half-cent measure.Even as they rejected the tax question, voters approved a related measure to let the city borrow money for major projects such as realignment of Highway 82, south bridge and Eighth Street projects.Community on the Move’s proposal would fund street maintenance, street reconstruction needs, traffic-calming projects such as creation of bike lanes, and short-term fixes for easing Highway 82 congestion.Hoping to drum up support for the measure, Community on the Move co-chairman Sam Skramstad said, “This is one of the most vital services the city provides. We tried last year but we didn’t do a good job … It was bad marketing on our part.”Since the tax was instituted 10 years ago, “construction costs have doubled,” he added. “The one-quarter tax is not enough to keep up with demand.”Resort towns such as Glenwood Springs have higher sales taxes than property tax, Hecksel said. Tourists pay 60 to 70 percent of the tax, taking some of the burden off residents.Hecksel said the measure could have a good chance to pass this year because there are no other local tax initiatives on the ballot, only statewide referendums C and D. The mail-in ballots will go out Oct. 12, he said.”If what we affectionately call the ‘pot hole tax’ doesn’t pass, I won’t stand up here and tell you we won’t fix them,” Skramstad, a former Glenwood Springs mayor, said. “It’s called deferred maintenance. We’ll throw blacktop and gravel on it and move on.””If we don’t do the maintenance we will have to reconstruct the roads at a much higher cost,” said Mayor Larry Emery.Skramstad appealed to the breakfast bunch for their support.”You’re all influential,” he said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com

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