Rec center numbers explained |

Rec center numbers explained

Last week [The Citizen Telegram, June 27, 2013], members of the group Rifle No More TAXES presented arguments against the proposed Rifle Recreation and Community Center. The majority of their criticism seems to stem from a radically different understanding of the nature of our regional economic health.

Opponents take a generally pessimistic view that our economy is ailing and that now is not the time to invest in Rifle. In their opposition, they have labeled supporters of the proposed center as “pro-taxers” who want to take money from the many to support a few.

Proponents see that judging by the state of leading financial indicators, the economy is improving. Property tax assessments for this year are down, which is a cyclical adjustment. That means in 2013, we should all see a little more money in our pockets as our property tax liability shrinks. The recreation center will enable a whole host of innovative ways to spur economic vitality. From sponsoring regional tournaments and utilizing the meeting spaces for local workshops where small business owners can receive information to build their business, to more tangible drivers, such as construction jobs and increased traffic flow to Railroad Avenue.

Recently, the Committee for the Rifle Recreation and Community Center asked Rifle shoppers to visit their booth at one of the many community events and bring their receipts from Rifle stores. Volunteers will gladly recalculate the tax, showing you the difference in what you would have paid if the tax were already being levied.

Currently, when shopping in Rifle, we pay 8.15 percent in sales tax. The recreation center tax would increase that amount to 8.89 percent, a 0.74 percent increase. Using an example that the Rifle No More TAXES group used last week of a vehicle purchased at $20,000, the tax paid on this item would go from $1,630 to $1,778, a difference of only $148 on a $20,000 purchase. Spread that out over the term of a four-year loan at 6 percent interest and you are talking about an additional $3.48 more per month for your car payment. That’s it!

One other question that Rifle No More TAXES posed concerned the Fruita Recreation Center, which cost $12.5 million, and why Rifle’s could cost $21 million.

First, Fruita’s recreation center is really only 42,000 square feet; 13,000 square feet of it are library facilities and were paid for by the library district. The Rifle center is 65,000 square feet, or 55 percent larger. If you add $12.5 million and 55 percent, it equals $19.3 million, adjusted for the increased cost of materials, since we’re not building at the very bottom of the recession. You can see that $21 million is a very conservative estimate and should be our maximum budgeted number for bonding.

While we are thinking about Fruita, it is also fair to point out that when the recreation center there was being built in 2010, everyone in Mesa County saw a decline in their sales tax receipts except Fruita’s receipts. They grew by 1 percent. In fact, this year, Fruita’s budget will show growth in sales tax revenue above the prerecession year of 2008.

Opponents say that they do not oppose a recreation center, just how it is funded. They say “ask businesses to fund it privately,” but how can we ask our corporate neighbors to do something that we are not willing to do for ourselves? We all know better than that.

Michael Langhorne is the volunteer president of the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp. and owner of Bookcliff Survey Services in Rifle.

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