Voters OK RFTA sales tax |

Voters OK RFTA sales tax

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Voters throughout the valley approved a tax increase to help with an expansion of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) for a major expansion of the bus service, while voters in Silt opted not to join RFTA, according to unofficial numbers released by Garfield County in Tuesday night’s general election.

Ballot Issue 4A asked voters in Carbondale, New Castle and Glenwood Springs, along with portions of Eagle County, unincorporated Pitkin County, Snowmass Village, Basalt and Aspen, whether to approve a 0.4 percent sales tax increase to help with a major expansion of the valleywide bus service.

According to early numbers released by the Garfield County Clerk, voters in Garfield County approved the measure 3,863 to 3,444 ” a 53 percent to 47 percent margin. However, the vote is cumulative, meaning that the total votes from all three counties will need to be counted and 51 percent of all votes in favor of the measure would be needed for the ballot issue to pass.

“We are very pleased that Ballot Issue 4A seems to have passed because it is a sign of support from the citizens throughout the RFTA region that they want to help us improve the quality of our transit service,” said Dan Blankenship, chief executive officer for RFTA.

Voter numbers for Eagle and Pitkin counties were not available at press time.

Approval of the ballot issue allows RFTA to issue $44.55 million in bonds to make the improvements to the bus system. The bonds will be paid off by the tax increase, which will also generate money for operating expenses for RFTA.

In a related but separate issue ” Ballot Issue 2A ” voters in Silt were asked if they wanted to join RFTA, which would include a 0.4 percent sales tax increase and a $10 vehicle registration fee imposed by RFTA.

Voters turned down the ballot issue in a vote of 579-398.

“I think we couldn’t justify the small amount of participation from the town of Silt for a 0.4 percent tax increase and a $10 fee,” said Silt Mayor Dave Moore. “It’s failed twice already, and I don’t think the people of Silt want to pay $100,000 for no more buses or bus riders.”

The sales tax would have generated $79,000 for the transportation agency next year and given Silt a seat on the RFTA board of directors, along with paying for improvements to the Grand Hogback route between Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

Blankenship said he was disappointed that Ballot Issue 2A failed in Silt.

“I’m disappointed it didn’t pass, but I attribute it to the lack of support in an uncertain economy right now, which causes people to be hesitant about any tax increases,” Blankenship said.

Both Moore and Blankenship indicated the measure might come back again on a future ballot.

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