Ballot measure opponents spearhead renewed roads effort



County roads

County officials met Tuesday regarding potential county road improvements.

County officials met Tuesday regarding potential county road improvements.

— John Shaw contributed more than $1,000 last fall to a committee that campaigned in opposition to Referendum 1A, a Routt County ballot question to fund road improvements and other county needs. Frank Roitsch wrote a letter to the editor titled "Vote 'no' on 1A."

Almost five months later, the two are spearheading a renewed effort to improve rural Routt County roadways.

"I didn't think it was a roads issue," Shaw said of Referendum 1A. "I thought it was a de-Brucing issue. It didn't serve what the initial goal was."

In November, Routt County voters turned down - by a 2-to-1 margin - the proposed property tax increase that would have raised $3.3 million or more a year for road improvements and other capital projects.

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 for other capital projects and infrastructure improvements. The proposal also asked that county government be exempt, or de-Bruced, from the state's Taxpayers Bill of Rights, which places a limit on the growth of government revenues.

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 turnout at an open work session meeting Monday with the Routt County Board of Commissioners suggested that support for such improvements exists. Shaw and Roitsch collected the names and e-mail addresses of those in attendance in hopes of forming a committee to explore the issue and identify an acceptable source of money. Roitsch served on a similar committee formed in 2006 that identified and prioritized needed improvements but left the financing piece in the hands of county officials who crafted last year's failed referendum.

"It went down in flames," Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said. "We thought we understood the input, but the ballot initiative failed."

One Stagecoach resident who attended Tuesday's meeting suggested the ballot measure failed because of "damn city folk" that don't care as much about the condition of county roads. Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, however, noted that the measure failed in every single Routt County precinct.

Most at Tuesday's meeting were residents of unincorporated Routt County, with South Routt areas such as Stagecoach particularly well represented. Many residents felt roads could be improved without the passage of a new tax if the county reprioritized its spending. Geneva Taylor said the county has gotten too caught up in "pet projects" and needs to refocus on essential services.

The county commissioners have said a new source of money is needed to tackle roads, but they said they would make their budget and staff available to the committee to see if they can find existing funds or other solutions.

"You'll get technical advice should you choose to form a committee," Mitsch Bush said. "There are a number of different possibilities for funding."

Anyone who is interested in serving on the new roads committee or just staying up to date on its work can e-mail Shaw at or Roitsch at

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail


another_local 9 years ago

What do you bet that the stagecoach person quoted wants those "damn city folk" to pay for the roads... despite the fact that the county does not spend much in the city limits where most of the money comes from.

Take the community center for example (don't confuse me with a a supporter though) The county programs use about 40% of the center's capacity but they declined to help pay for it. (a 15K contributon to a 4M project does not rise to the test)

The sales and property taxes paid by city residents and businesses constitute the majority of the county budget. the county has, as a result of the dynamic economy in the "damn city", doubled it's revenue in recent years. There is plenty of money without any new taxes. The county needs to hear us when we tell them to re-prioritize and CUT other items if they need more $$ for roads.


techno_babble 9 years ago

Part of the problem is the people who build multi-million houses at the end of a county goat track and then get the county to widen, road base, and eventually pave the road. The county has been upgrading roads to the agriculturally zoned areas (those who do not pay anywhere close to normal property tax) for 20 years. Does anyone remeber when you couldn't drive to Dry Lake on buff pass in the winter - why does that peice of road now get plowed?

So, we are getting more and better roads to serve the people who pay the least taxes.


corduroy 9 years ago

I live in Stagecoach and CR 14 is NOT great. Nevermind the frost heaves currently, but all the potholes that appear each year, They managed to "re-pave" part of CR 16 by chip sealing it, but they still have not extended the pavement further up 16 where many local families are starting out.

I think its funny to get off the paved road for about a mile to get to my paved driveway.

The problem with the initial referendum was that it was all about DeBrucing, I felt like the amount they'd tax for roads could change at any moment, and I like to know what I am paying and what it is going towards.

another_local.. most of Stagecoach is working people, who work in Steamboat. Not ranchers or hicks. Unfortunately we cannot afford to live in Steamboat, or choose to live in Stagecoach because of how beautiful it is. With more and more people commuting to work in Steamboat, don't you think we deserve better, safer roads to get to work?

I also agree with the widening of 129. Living up there for a year or so it can be a dangerous winding road, especially when you add cyclists.


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