Taking a look at ballot issues | PostIndependent.com

Taking a look at ballot issues

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County voters will have quite a bit of homework ahead of them when they begin marking their ballots in support or opposition more than a dozen questions on this year’s ballot.

Thousands of Garfield County voters will also have to do a little more research because of ballot issues that will affect voters who live in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, New Castle and the area that the Garfield County School District 16 covers.

Here is a quick rundown of all the local ballot questions affecting county voters:

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) will ask voters in Carbondale, New Castle and Glenwood Springs to approve funding for a major expansion to help it deal with climbing ridership.

Voters in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, unincorporated Pitkin County and in Snowmass Village, Basalt and Aspen will also vote on the question.

Ballot Issue 4A seeks a .4 percent sale and use tax increase ” which would mean an additional 4 cents on every $10 of taxable sales ” for RFTA to increase the frequency of bus service, reduce travel times and get cars off Highway 82.

While most communities would see a .4 increase, Carbondale residents would face a .3 percent increase ” or 3 cents on every $10 of taxable sales ” because existing RFTA taxes are higher in the city.

The cumulative vote carries the day. In other words, an individual jurisdiction such as Glenwood Springs could vote against the measure, but it would pass if voters overall approve it.

Voter approval would allow RFTA to issue $44.55 million in bonds to make improvements. Those bonds would be paid off by the tax increase, which would also raise money increased operating revenues for RFTA. The agency also is seeking $21.3 million from the Federal Transit Administration for part of an expansion plan, called Bus Rapid Transit.

If the local funding is approved, RFTA will buy 15 buses, implement a speedier system where riders would pay their fare before loading, construct a handful of improved bus stops that include real-time technology on bus locations and continue to implement traffic enhancements along the highway that gives preference to buses.

This ballot question will ask voters in Silt whether they want to vote for a .4 sales tax increase so that the city can join the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA). Residents of Silt will also have to pay a $10 vehicle registration fee imposed by RFTA.

The sales tax increase sought by Ballot Issue 2A would bring Silt in line with what other RFTA communities will see if Ballot Issue 4A ” a measure meant to increase RFTA’s services ” passes.

If Ballot Issue 2A passes in Silt, it will generate $79,000 for the transportation agency next year. A yes vote will give Silt a seat on the RFTA board of directors, and pay for improvements to the Grand Hogback service between Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

Approval of the ballot issue would also pay for improved bus stops and shelters in Silt.

New Castle voters will decide whether to approve a $3 million bond issue to upgrade and improve the town’s drinking water system, treatment plant and to install and upgrade the town’s raw water distribution system.

About $2.5 million from the bond issue will go to upgrade the town’s water processing plant, according to the city. The remaining $500,000 would go to install an additional raw water pump station near Wagon Wheel Circle.

If New Castle voters sign off on the bond issue, residential property taxes would go up by a maximum of $34 per $100,000 of actual property value recorded by the Garfield County assessor, according to city officials. Commercial property taxes would increase by a maximum of $124 per $100,000 valuation.

The Garfield County School District No. 16 is seeking to ask voters in their school district whether they want to institute a special mill levy of 1.25 mills, which would raise about $1.511 million this school year, to pay for the purchase and installation of instruction and informational technology for the district. The mill levy increase sought in Ballot Issue 3A will expire after 2011.

Organizers behind 3A say the ballot issue will not require the district to raise the school mill levy over the 8.6 mills it levied last year.

Very few Garfield County voters will decide four questions affecting the Travelers Highlands subdivision west of Parachute. The ballot questions ask voters who own property in that subdivision if they want to form a public improvement district, raise taxes and increase debt to pay for administrative costs of the district, and to pay for street improvements in the proposed district.

Scott Condon of the Aspen Times contributed to this report.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117


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