Money doesn’t talk in Rifle recreation center tax election
Citizen Telegram Editor
David easily beat Goliath, if you will, in terms of political campaign spending by the two sides in the Rifle Recreation and Community Center sales tax issue that was soundly defeated by voters in the Sept. 10 municipal election.
Spending just less than a quarter per no vote, Rifle No More TAXES – the issues committee that opposed ballot question D that would have raised the city sales tax .74 percent to help repay a $21 million bond issue the city would have used to build a recreation center at Metro Park – convinced 1,063 voters to mark their ballots against the measure.
In contrast, the Committee for the Rifle Recreation and Community Center, the pro-recreation center issues committee, spent $29.69 per yes vote. A total of just 685 voters favored the question.
According to campaign spending reports obtained through an open records request from The Citizen Telegram, Rifle No More TAXES spent $261.17 from July 24, 2013 through Oct. 10, 2013. The Committee for the Rifle Recreation and Community Center spent $20,336.71 from Dec. 18, 2012 through Oct. 10, 2013.
The difference in dates on the spending reports is due to Rifle No More TAXES registering late as an issues committee. Group leader Susan Nichols-Alvis said the success of the opposition effort was largely due to its grassroots start, on Facebook.
“And we used a lot of recycled and used materials” for signs and other items, she added. “We were watched at the state level and people with similar views have asked us how we were so organized.”
“In general, people from the local to the national level are just tired of all the spending” by governments, Nichols-Alvis added. “And we had a great team. It was fun; difficult, but fun.”
Nichols-Alvis said the group had “a couple dozen” active volunteers and “thousands” online. Rifle No More TAXES also gave advice to a group that opposed a similar taxing issue for a recreation center in the Basalt area that was defeated by voters there in this month’s election.
Rifle No More TAXES reported monetary donations of $100 each from Renee Butler of Battlement Mesa and Kelly Couey of Silt and $60 from Jason Clark of Rifle.
Non-monetary contributions were $346.08 from then-Rifle City Council candidate Hans Parkinson in the form of banners, $30 from Jake and Becky Mall of Rifle for candy and stickers to hand out at the Garfield County Fair parade in August, $30 from Michael Chaffee of Rifle for signs and fliers for the parade, and $20 from Paula Campbell of Rifle for T-shirts and decals.
Expenses were $141.97 to Jean’s Printing for fliers, $46 to the Postal Service and $25 to the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce for the fair parade entry fee.
Rec center group
The Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp., which received a $1 million donation from the late Genevieve Clough in 2008 to help develop plans for a health and wellness center, was by far the main contributor to the recreation center group.
The group gave two $10,000 donations, one on Aug. 13 and the second on March 26.
Shelley Aibner, a committee co-chair, made three contributions between Dec. 18, 2012 and March 21, totalling $310. Those contributions were returned to her on April 10. The committee also returned $1,529.45 to the economic development group on Aug. 13.
Expenses reported by the committee included $8,657.04 to Cobb & Associates of Grand Junction for advertising, $1,540 to SGS Enterprises of Rifle for consultant fees, $900 to Colorado Mountain News Media for newspaper advertising, $600 to the Cow Pie newsletter for advertising.
The committee also paid $993.32 to Jean’s Printing for various printed materials, $314.95 to Micro Plastics for supplies and banners, $512.84 to Walmart for various supplies, $1,343.76 for food at various restaurants and City Market, $320 to the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce for membership and event registration fees, $964.06 for web site design and maintenance to Blue Eyes Design of Rifle, Godaddy.com and Anna Kaiser of Rifle.
Neither Aibner nor committee co-chair Angela Strode returned phone calls for comment on the spending reports.
Among the seven city council candidates, little money was spent and none was raised, according to the reports. But the four top vote getters – Barbara Clifton, Dirk Myers, Hans Parkinson and Randy Winkler – all reported spending something.
Clifton reported spending $10.76 for mileage to various events, Myers spent $582.80 for signs, T-shirts and Frisbees, Parkinson spent $674.44 for the fair parade entry fee and signs, while Winkler spent $25 to enter the fair parade. Candidates Steven Fuller, Wilma Paddock and Sara Brainard did not report any donations or expenditures.
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