Trauger column: Some perspective on the local fire and transit ballot issues
Tax issues are always difficult. How much is too much? What if I don’t directly benefit? What if I am on a limited income? Difficult questions. However, there are two local issues that bear taking a close look at this election.
Questions 2A & 6B are, in my opinion, a “no brainer.” Given the horrific wildfire season we had this past summer, it is easy to see the value in funding our firefighting efforts. Story after story emerged of homes lost or nearly lost in Oak Meadows, Lake Christine or a number of others fires that devastated or nearly devastated homes and businesses throughout the region.
Yet our own fire department is facing a devastating loss if these measures are not passed. If you own property in the Glenwood Springs area, I urge you to support 2A and 6B. These will have a direct impact on your property.
Have you heard of an ISO rating? If you intend to vote against 2A & 2B because you are against all taxes, you need to know that you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot. The longer it takes for a department to respond to your emergency, the more out-of-date the equipment, the higher the ISO rating.
So what is the ISO rating? It is an Insurance Services Office rating, and this rating determines your insurance rates for fire insurance. So bite the bullet and simply vote “yes” on 2A & 2B to maintain your insurance ratings at the current level.
The other tax question may be a little more difficult, but hear me out. The RFTA ask (7A) is a difficult one for many. If you don’t ride the bus, or employ those that do ride the bus, you may find it difficult to see the value in this. However, please stay with me.
If you have been privy to watching the streams of vehicles making their way from Parachute on upvalley — whether to Rifle, New Castle, Glenwood, Carbondale, Basalt or Aspen — to find lucrative employment, you may have an inkling how important this service is for hundreds of employees as well as businesses. RFTA has an extremely important place in our communities. It provides a reliable, safe mode of transportation for employees as well as people heading to doctor appointments and students going to school.
Full disclosure statement: I currently am a regular rider, from Glenwood to Aspen, Monday through Friday — and back again — and have been for about a year. While on City Council, I was an alternate to the RFTA board of directors. However, I have been a supporter of RFTA for much longer. This innovative group, under the capable leadership of Dan Blankenship, has been responsible to for creating the first wildly successful rural Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the United States.
Yes, parking at 27th Street Station is a joke. I don’t think that RFTA or the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission — which I chaired at the time — imagined that this would be as successful as it has been. That is the single biggest mistake I think that the Glenwood P&Z has made in the last 10 years.
However, hundreds of people are not using this service — as is still evidenced by the level of traffic along Highway 82 every morning and evening. Why?
One of the reasons is the service to New Castle, Silt and Rifle does not meet the demand for time and frequency. This measure would help to change that. However, when I look at the number of additional cars that would be placed on the road if RFTA were to cut services I cannot imagine what our roadways would look like. Morning and evenings, RFTA buses are standing room only. If all of those people were to jump in their cars and drive, it would be nearly gridlock.
So, whether or not you use the bus system, if you use Highway 82, the streets of Glenwood, or make any trips through any of our towns in the morning or evening, you will understand the need for a reliable, efficient transportation system for our valley. A vote to help fund RFTA into the future is a vote for our lifestyle and maintaining all of our regions’ character. Join me in voting “yes” on 7A.
Kathryn Trauger lives in and writes from her hometown of Glenwood Springs. She has served the community as a member of Glenwood Springs City Council and chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and she currently serves as the chair of the city’s Financial Advisory Board. Her column, Perspective, appears monthly in the Post Independent. She may be reached at email@example.com or at 970-379-4849.
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