Garfield open space measure failing, Rifle tax OK’d

Garfield County voters on Tuesday were again rejecting a tax measure to fund open space preservation, but Rifle residents were approving a sales tax proposal to help pay for a new water treatment plant.

With 27 of 29 precincts counted, the quarter-cent county sales tax was being defeated 11,746 to 9,509, or 55 to 45 percent. It would have been used to work to conserve working farms and ranches, and for other purposes such as providing trails and parks and protecting riverways and wildlife habitat. It would have cost an estimated $3.25 per month for the average county household.

“I was concerned that it might pass but I had faith because it failed the last two times,” said Steve Damm, a Glenwood Springs resident who’d spoken out against the measure.

“I’ve got to give the electorate credit for understanding all the ins and outs and also not wanting another tax. I think the timing is bad for any kind of tax right now but especially I think that the open space (measure) didn’t make sense to a lot of people,” he said.

He said the measure wasn’t necessary given how much public land already is in the county.

Supporters of the measure weren’t available for comment Tuesday night. Support for the tax had come from recreation, ranching, energy development and other sectors.

In Rifle, a three-quarter-cent sales tax was leading 1,667 to 1,114, or 60 percent to 40 percent. The measure will help pay for a $25.5 million loan to build a new water treatment plant, Mayor Jay Miller said.

City ratepayers already were hit with a nearly 60 percent increase in their bills starting in September to help pay for the plant, and another increase of about 40 percent was scheduled to take effect next April if the tax hadn’t passed, Miller said.

“We did that (sales tax increase proposal) for the ratepayers and they agreed with a method that we chose to help them out,” he said. The plant will go out to bid early next year and is expected to be completed in about two years, Miller said. He said the current plant is “very outdated.”



having been built in the late 1970s with a 30-year design life.


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