City should eschew obfuscation

Below are the texts of the ballot questions from Mesa County and the city of Grand Junction that voters will confront when they go to the polls this fall.

The county’s question is straightforward. In just 29 words, the county asks voters if they’d rather have three commissioners or five, and it informs them that if they want five, it will cost $174,274. We don’t think voters will have much trouble reading that and knowing exactly what they are voting on.

The city’s, on the other hand, is a lesson in obfuscation. We’re not sure anybody who hasn’t spent hours and hours keeping up with just what the city wants will have a clue what he or she is voting on if all they know is what they read on the ballot.

For starters, it is in two parts, and the second part is dependent on the first. Or is the first dependent on the second? We’re not sure. But we are sure that a lot of voters are likely to scratch their heads in bewilderment when they confront a sentence like Question 2A.

Here’s a cheat sheet: In 2A, the city is asking to raise the sales tax from 2.75 percent to 3 percent, with the additional revenue going to build $98 million worth of — in our view — much-needed public safety improvements, including a new police station and three new fire stations.

But it also refers to Question 2B, in a manner that is less than helpful to voters. Question 2A says that the increased sales tax will be permanent unless 2B passes. If 2B does pass, then the new sales tax will go away when the Riverside Parkway bonds are paid off, but at the same time, the city will no longer be subject to revenue limits required by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. What that means, but is by no means clear in the ballot language, is that, if 2B passes, you will never again receive a TABOR tax refund from the city.

We applaud the county for making its ballot question simple and to the point. The city, on the other hand, has done nothing to enlighten voters.

For the record, we urge a “Yes” vote on Referred Measure 1A, the county’s five-commissioner question; “Yes” on Question 2A, allowing for construction of new public safety facilities, and “No” on Question 2B, which is nothing more than a blank check for the city.


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