Letter: Glenwood’s imperfect, yet essential streets tax
Imperfect but necessary – that’s how I see the proposed 0.75-percent sales tax increase that Glenwood Springs voters are now considering to raise an estimated $56 million for street and underground utilities improvements.
Critics say the tax is too high, too long-lived at up to 20 years and too burdensome to local merchants, who are likely to lose business to competing locales with lower sales taxes. Add in the burden of other recent sales and property tax increases and it’s tempting to “just say no” to another tax hike.
Yet anyone who’s experienced the crumbling, pothole-riddled condition of south Midland Avenue lately understands the bone-jarring consequences of deferring essential infrastructure maintenance. And if our deteriorating local streets don’t get attention soon, the future costs almost certainly will be much higher.
Personally, I would prefer to share these costs with the thousands of tourists and commuters who use our streets, increasing traffic volumes and generating much of the wear and tear that adds to our deferred backlog of repairs. And if the new sales tax is approved, the Chamber Resort Association expects non-residents to pay nearly three-fourths of the resulting tax revenue.
Granted, the ballot language could have been written more clearly. That might have eased critics’ fears that sales tax proceeds will be diverted to other city needs. Additionally, the two ballot issues (A & B) authorize the new sales tax to rake in $90 million or more over its 20-year authorized lifespan, well beyond the current $56 million project cost estimate. Yet city officials vow that the tax will sunset as soon as the specified projects are complete.
Essentially it’s a matter of trust. I believe the city has been clear enough about the intended scope and cost of the proposed streets project, and that we can count on future leaders to carry out these much-needed projects as promised.
Granted, we could wait another year for a revised, more perfect, ballot issue to be drafted. But as far as I’m concerned, the need is urgent and there’s no better time than now to start.
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