Clifton to remain unincorporated
It comes as no great surprise that a majority of property owners in the Fruitvale/Clifton area that was proposed for annexation to the city of Grand Junction were underwhelmed by the annexation plan.
Even in the best of times, a significant portion of the independent-minded folks in Fruitvale and Clifton are not likely to be enchanted with the idea of paying marginally more in property taxes to be part of the city and, on top of that, being burdened with city regulations.
But these aren’t the best of times for any local governments. And the city of Grand Junction is no exception. It has had to trim personnel and some services — such as code enforcement — to deal with steep declines in tax revenue.
If you were a property owner in the Fruitvale-Clifton area over the past six months — when the annexation petition drive was taking place — you might have reasonably wondered: “I will pay more in taxes if my property is annexed by the city, but will I see any improvement from the services I now receive through Mesa County?”
Of course, city officials have probably been contemplating the opposite question: Will the city receive enough additional revenue from annexing the area to pay for the increased cost of services there?
That’s why, even if a majority of property owners in the Fruitvale-Clifton area had petitioned for annexation, there’s no guarantee the Grand Junction City Council would have approved the annexation.
The Daily Sentinel has long argued that it makes sense for one municipal entity, the city of Grand Junction, to be the service provider for the heavily populated heart of the Grand Valley. Portions of Clifton are the most densely populated neighborhoods of the entire county.
However, over the past 15 years, residents of Clifton and Fruitvale have twice rejected plans for their neighborhoods to be annexed to Grand Junction. They have also given thumbs-down on proposals to incorporate as their own municipality.
It’s clear residents of Clifton and Fruitvale are mostly happy with the unincorporated status they have had since Mesa County was created in the 1880s. So county officials must continue the balancing act they’ve had going for decades — providing a reasonable level of services to Clifton and Fruitvale without making taxpayers in the other parts of the county subsidize those services.