PI Editorial: Voters give CRFR a much-needed boost
The contrast is incredibly stark.
In 2020, Colorado River Fire Rescue asked voters for a mill levy for operational funds, which have declined in tandem with energy prices for years now.
Just over 53% of voters rejected it.
Now, less than two years later voters resoundingly said yes to a similar — yet different — mill levy ask from CRFR, with roughly 68% approving it.
There are numerous possibilities for the difference in outcomes. This year’s ask sees a phased implementation of the mill levy increase as opposed to voters being hit with it all at once, and being out of the beginning stages of the pandemic probably helps as well.
It’s very likely that the greatest reason for the difference, however, is the time and energy supporters of the mill levy put into talking with voters about why it’s important — and making it clear the ramifications of its failure.
Part of those ramifications were apparent in the many difficult choices CRFR made in the past year, from closing the fire station south of Rifle in fall 2020 to leaving numerous positions unfilled to selling off equipment this summer. If the mill levy had failed, more cuts to service capabilities would have been inevitable.
Given just how intense our local firefighting season can be, we appreciate voters recognizing the importance of this ballot measure. Supporters of the mill levy and CRFR are obviously even more grateful than we could ever be for the voters’ approval. One thing we’d encourage them to keep in mind: Voters throughout Garfield County never approach local tax initiatives with a rubber stamp. In the event CRFR puts another ask to voters down the road, the public will likely look at their wise stewardship of these funds before making their decision. Continue doing great work and making smart choices, and the voters will likely recognize this.
Writing about voters, we’d also like to give a kudos to everyone who cast their ballot this year. Off-year elections historically see lower participation than standard election years, but locally we saw participation actually rise. So far, the clerk’s office has seen a 40.1% turnout for Garfield County voters. Out of 37,512 total registered voters, 15,300 ballots were cast. That’s a nearly 2% increase over our 2019 elections.
Obviously we want participation to be higher still, but we’re pleased to see it going in the right direction.
So, again, thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s elections. Especially at the local level, elections make a true difference in how our communities are run and our quality of life.
The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representative Amy Connerton.
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