Kids Voting ballot introduces issues of interest for adult voters
The Nov. 4 general election ballot includes measures 2A and 2B, which would fund $98 million of public safety improvements.
The Grand Junction public safety initiative would increase the sales tax from 2.75 percent to 3 percent in order to raise $5 million per year to pay off the new complex. Measure 2B would allow the city to apply to keep excess funds forever.
This article addresses measure 2A that appears on the Kid’s Voting ballot.
Both current Mayor Gregg Palmer and former Mayor Gene Kinsey believe that the public safety complex needs to be expanded. The question is whether to finance it with an increase in sales tax or gradually over a period of time as the funds are available.
These measures will put our city in debt, according to both Palmer and Kinsey.
The city of Grand Junction will have to repay a $98 million loan which will be paid by sales tax revenue. Anyone who shops in Grand Junction will help pay.
According to Palmer, the current police station was built in 1958 and is no longer able to support the growing population of Grand Junction. “We need to do something now, not later, at a higher cost,” said Palmer.
The original station was designed to house 31 employees but now houses 250. The proposed site of the main safety facility would be able to house all of the employees. It would include seven buildings—four fire stations, a court building, a fire/police building, storage buildings and a parking structure. The site would be bounded by Ute and Pitkin avenues on one side and Fifth and Seventh streets on the other.
The current growth of Grand Junction’s boundaries, along with increased traffic, has slowed Emergency Medical System responses. The response time needs to be eight minutes or less, but in some areas it is approaching nine minutes. This would increase the EMS response time dramatically ensuring public safety, according to Palmer.
Kinsey agrees that the current police and fire stations are no longer efficient.
Kinsey’s main objection to these measures is financing them by asking to raise sales tax. “I think this is a bad idea,” Kinsey said. “By saving money and paying cash, the city was able to accomplish its needs and retain flexibility in the budget.” Kinsey said he believes that, instead of increasing taxes, the city should save and construct the facilities one at a time.
Crystal Johansen is a junior at R-5 High School who is reporting on election issues for The Daily Sentinel in conjunction with Kids Voting of Mesa County.