Routt County road tax voted down at polls

Voters overwhelmingly reject deBrucing measure that didn't include sunset provision


Election 2007: Time for change

Read all stories related to Election Day results

2007 Election, How Routt County voted

Precinct by precinct breakdown of how Routt County voted

— Routt County voters overwhelmingly turned down a property tax increase that would have raised $3.3 million or more a year for road improvements and other capital projects.

Referendum 1A failed by a 2-to-1 margin Tuesday.

The bulk of the criticism for the proposal focused on its lack of a sunset provision - after a six-year plan to improve 60 miles of county roads, tax revenues would have continued to flow into county coffers. Only the first $2.6 million of those future funds would have been used for unspecified capital projects. The remainder of the revenue would have gone into the county's general fund.

The ballot initiative asked that county government be exempt from the state's Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which places a limit on the growth of government revenues.

In the wake of the referendum's defeat, Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said the commissioners would have to talk with planners to see what can be done to proceed with needed road repairs.

Mitsch Bush agreed that much of the opposition had to do with the provision's lack of a sunset - something she said she would push for if the measure goes back on the ballot next year.

"One of the obvious things that will have to happen is that we won't be able to provide a level of service that we have been providing," Mitsch Bush said.

She said the demands for service are rising dramatically, as is the cost of materials. The county has found itself falling behind on infrastructure improvements, she said.

Steamboat Springs City Councilman Paul Strong said the tax increase might have stood a better chance of passing had it been allocated only for roads.

"I think that the people of the county realize there's a funding need for roads - and not to make light of the problem, because it is a big problem - but this was like going after a gnat with a sledgehammer," Strong said.

The exemption would have set the county's property tax mill levy at 12.266 mills. That's a decrease from this year's mill levy of 12.42, but a 32.9 percent hike on the 9.229 mill levy TABOR would require for next year.

In 2008, the tax increase would have meant an additional $25 a year per $100,000 of estimated market value for residential property owners and an additional $88 a year for $100,000 of estimated market value for commercial taxpayers.

Planned projects for the increased revenue included widening the shoulders on Routt County Road 129, reconstructing parts of C.R. 14 south of Colorado Highway 131, and hard-surfacing a number of unpaved roads.

The six-year road and bridge improvement plan was projected to cost $18.9 million. Of that amount, $10.4 million would have been raised by Referendum 1A, and the remaining $8.5 million would have come from county reserves.

Brandon Gee contributed to this article.


Oscar 9 years, 5 months ago

I expect the county commisioners are not surprised by an overwhelming defeat of this ridiculous tax and spend proposal. Tax payers are not against road repairs, which is what tax money is all about. Tax payers are against creating an endless supply of tax money to county government to do with whatever they please. I'm so pleased that the anti-tax and spend campaign uncloaked this deceitful proposal with their ads in the Today paper.


Zalobar 9 years, 5 months ago

Cats if I remember right the permit was only for materials, no mixing plant for concrete. So La Farge should truck sand etc. over to Milner to batch concrete? Heres your jello, Sorry, we are out of bowls.


stmbtdon 9 years, 5 months ago

Bless the voters on Referendum 1A. They are not as niave as our trusted county commissioners would like. Come on commissioners, give it to us straight and stop wasting money on tricky and deceptive Referendums. If you need more money for roads, ask for it. Don't play games with the voters who made you king!


catsbuzzy 9 years, 5 months ago

You forget that the County actually APPROVED Lafarge's permit request. Lafarge has chosen, to date, not to take the County up on their offer -- at least not yet.


Zalobar 9 years, 5 months ago

Look who is paying for the short sightedness of our county officials. Us and Them. They thought they could slow growth by making supplies scarce. All they have done is eliminate competition in the rescourses supply side and increase competition for those supplies. Sure the cost of supplies for roads and bridges have gone up. Where there should be 4 or 5 scources in competition there is only 1. The only winners are those greedy and self serving people who oppose new scources of road building materials at ANY cost just to preserve their View? Maybe we need to put these issues in the hands of common sense voters and quit trusting biased, short sighted officials. 70% of the truck traffic through downtown could have been mitigated as well, reducing the local carbon footprint and relieving a lot of traffic congestion on 40. Now La Farge is setting up next to TCC when they should be south of town where MOST of the DEMAND is. Tired of seeing concrete trucks running through town? Thank your County Govt.


natv63 9 years, 5 months ago

Zalobar is right. You take the competition away and the tax payer will pay. We did it to our selves. Yes cats they did ok the Lafarge pit but the conditions were insane.


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