Big money for public safety

Committee raises $100,000 in campaign contributions

The committee pushing to pass a city sales-tax increase and lift revenue caps to fund a $98 million public safety initiative has raked in more than $100,000 in contributions.

Citizens for a Safer Grand Junction reported this week that it received $105,175 in cash between July 15 and Oct. 9. The committee received an additional $3,328.08 in non-monetary contributions for a total contribution amount of $108,503.08.

The committee has spent $53,406 thus far, leaving it with $51,768 on hand.

All but $1,124 of the money given to Citizens for a Safer Grand Junction has been donated since Sept. 1.

Citizens for a Safer Grand Junction has raised the second-largest amount of money this election of any local candidate and issue committee. Only Democratic Rep. Bernie Buescher, who’s attempting to retain his House District 55 seat, has raised more money through his campaign committee, accumulating more than $226,000. That amount, though, has been raised since the beginning of 2007.

By comparison, Friends of District 51, the committee campaigning for the School District 51 bond issue and property tax increase, has received $6,680 and spent more than $30,000, leaving it with a deficit of more than $20,000.

City officials are asking voters to approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase and an exemption to the portion of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights that limits how much revenue the city can collect. The money would pay for the construction and operation of seven new public safety buildings, including new downtown fire and police stations, a new 911 dispatch center, a new municipal courtroom, an annex building, a parking garage and three neighborhood fire stations.

Kevin Kuhlman, president of Citizens for a Safer Grand Junction, said the amount of money given to the campaign “reiterates the importance of why we’re trying to get these two ballot initiatives passed.”

“A lot of these individuals see the need for more police and fire services,” he said.

Kuhlman said the committee began a door-to-door campaign last week in which it hopes to visit every home in the city by Oct. 27 and talk with residents about the initiative.

The greatest single contribution to Citizens for a Safer Grand Junction came from Shaw Construction, which a year ago completed the $7.8 million Rood Avenue parking garage, in which the city has partial ownership. Shaw cut a $10,000 check to the committee on Sept. 12.

Rich Keller, director of preconstruction services for Shaw, said the need for new public safety buildings is “critical.”

“Shaw as a company has tried to be supportive of local initiatives and causes ... and we think there is a great need for a new public safety facility in Grand Junction,” Keller said.

Citizens for a Safer Grand Junction has spent much of its money on yard signs (nearly $19,000), consulting services from Denver-based Welchert and Britz Inc. (nearly $16,000) and newspaper advertising ($14,000), campaign finance reports show.


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