Citizens asked for golf course, city right to pursue it
An informal petition is being circulated asking the Glenwood Springs City Council to have a citizen vote before they issue Certificates of Participation (COPs) to fund construction of a golf course and other recreational amenities. Before a person signs such a petition, he or she should understand some important facts relative to the proposal.-One, COPs are not illegal or unethical. COPs are not part of the TABOR taxpayers amendment. COPs do not raise taxes, but use an existing source of revenue, acknowledging that cities and counties have projects they want to do for which the funding does not depend on a new source of revenue. Garfield County built the new Courthouse Plaza and the maintenance facility at Cattle Creek with COPs backed by our current property taxes. They did not go to the people for a vote to approve the projects. A household example would be financing an auto purchase. A person looks at his monthly income and determines that he can make the monthly payment on the car without asking his boss for a raise.-Two, citizens and consultants recommended the revival of the golf course on Wulfsohn Ranch. During the Glenwood Meadows development hearings many citizens made the comment that the community was wrong in rejecting a golf course in the past and the city should put a golf course there. Geologists and soils engineers, while consulting on the debris flow mitigation for Glenwood Meadows, recommended a golf course would be a better mitigation measure than large debris basins. The course would incorporate multi-level terracing and debris flow channels in its design. The Glenwood Meadows plan has a hotel/convention area designated to be across from the Community Center. The hotel and conference consultants recommend that a golf course should be in close proximity to attract business and convention meetings.-Three, the theater is still a viable project. In fact, the DDA and its tax increment district are in serious discussions with regard to parking and a performing arts center at the two rivers confluence area downtown. -Four, a golf course is the only recreational amenity that generates revenue. Recreation has become integral in our lives and the economy of Glenwood. Citizens are demanding new and improved facilities. Amenities are important in drawing and extending the tourist stay, which in turn increases sales tax revenues for the city. Unfortunately, it is difficult for recreational facilities to pay their own way. That is true for performing art centers as well. To cover all expenses the daily use fee or ticket price would be too high for the average citizen. One exception to that rule is a golf course. Over time golf courses actually make money. The excess revenues can be used to support and subsidize the theater and other recreational amenities.-Five, we should not vote on the use of COPs to fund these projects. These are all projects citizens have been seeking for years. The city was prudent in taking over the landfill and making it a profitable business. They bonded for the money to improve the landfill without a vote of the people. Now they have excess revenues that can be used to improve services to the community, enhance the quality of life and create new business opportunities. Realistically a vote would not happen until November 2004, delaying the process for over a year. With COPs, the projects can be done now in today’s time with the value of today’s dollar.The city has proven it is fiscally responsible and capable of undertaking large projects. We should support them in this request.- Mary Steinbrecher is a former member of the Glenwood Springs City Council.
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