Annexation or incorporation? Clifton, Fruitvale appear split

Months after a series of community meetings revealed a nearly 50-50 split among Clifton and Fruitvale residents on whether they want to form their own city or become part of Grand Junction, the results of a telephone poll don’t appear any closer to settling the question.

Preliminary data from a survey of more than 400 people appear to show citizens are conflicted on the matter of annexation or incorporation, Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock said Tuesday.

He said 68 percent of the 426 people contacted in the phone survey said keeping property taxes low was their No. 1 or 2 priority. Maintaining a high level of basic services was the No. 1 or 2 priority of 61 percent of respondents.

Peacock said those responses would seem to show a preference for annexation. County officials have projected property taxes would increase about 2 1/2 times more under incorporation than annexation, while annexation would lead to a greater increase in service.

Yet when residents were asked at the conclusion of the poll what decision they would make if they had to choose between annexation and incorporation, a little more than 40 percent said they favored incorporation. Nearly 36 percent favored annexation, 13 percent said neither and 11 percent indicated they didn’t know.

Peacock called the percentage difference between those favoring annexation and those favoring incorporation a “statistical dead heat,” given the 5 percent margin of error in the poll.

“It’s difficult to tell where the community sits,” he told county commissioners and Grand Junction City Council members during a meeting of the boards Tuesday afternoon.

Peacock said the results from the poll are unofficial, and he expects the consultant that conducted the poll, Kansas-based ETC Institute, to issue a final report this week.

In the meantime, the county recently made postcards with pro and con statements about annexation versus incorporation and sent them to the roughly 14,000 residents in the Clifton and Fruitvale area.

City Councilman Bruce Hill expressed concern about one of the statements against annexation indicating there was no guarantee that Clifton and Fruitvale would be represented on the council. He said council boundaries would be redrawn to reflect the change in population, assuming Clifton and Fruitvale were annexed.

Peacock said he hopes the Clifton-Fruitvale Governance Steering Committee will recommend either annexation or incorporation to the county commission. A ballot question then would go before Clifton and Fruitvale residents.

If the question pertains to incorporation, it would appear on the ballot in November 2009, at the earliest, Peacock said.

If it pertains to annexation, the timing of its appearance on the ballot largely would depend on city officials, who likely would seek to first conduct a study to determine the impacts of annexation.


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