Grand Junction City Council asks for review of ‘to do’ list

If it were up to you, what projects would you like the city of Grand Junction to complete?

Well, the answer to that question is up to you.

City councilors want to hear which capital improvement projects residents think are a priority if dollars are freed up in anticipation of an upcoming ballot question.

An open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Two Rivers Convention Center offers a chance for people to stop by and chime in. Anyone can submit comments by taking a survey at http://www.gjcity.org.

Invitations to Thursday’s open house also were tucked into residents’ water bills.

The City Council likely will place an issue on the April ballot on whether voters should approve a revenue-retention measure allowing the city to use taxes that exceed limits set by TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

If voters approved the TABOR override ballot measure, an estimated $2.4 million a year would be freed up to spend on other capital projects.

If voters don’t approve the ballot measure, the city would be forced to give back the money, with the bulk of the money going to commercial businesses. Giving back money would equate to an average of $4 per person a month, with the city’s top 10 business properties getting $7,800 a month. Nine of those businesses have out-of-state headquarters, so most of the refund would not be spent locally, local officials contend.

Councilors have some ideas for the money including completing the 29 Road bypass to Interstate 70, improving North Avenue or improving Horizon Drive. However, they want to first hear from the public.

“It’s just going to be interesting to see what the community wants to do,” Councilor Jim Doody said. “For me, I think the thing that makes sense is to do the 29 Road (project). I want to hear what they want to do. That’s the whole 
exercise of this.”

The TABOR dollars also could be used to improve Matchett Park or to develop Las Colonias park, the 100-acre swath of city-owned land south of downtown near the Colorado River.

Other possibilities include constructing outlying fire stations or building a community recreation center.

Teresa Coons said she and fellow councilors are fairly set on asking a TABOR question on the April ballot.

Now comes the issue of determining which project or projects councilors should ask voters to approve.

“I think we’re very interested in hearing what makes sense to people on how specific versus how broad they are willing to go,” she said about ballot language.

For example, Coons said the ballot question can contain language that allows the city to spend the TABOR revenues on transportation issues, which could include the 29 Road connector.

That project is expected to exceed $100 million, especially with the needed creation of an interstate interchange.

However, Mesa County and the state of Colorado also would probably help pay for construction costs of the major roadway.

Voters agreed in 2007 that the city could use TABOR dollars to more quickly pay off the $110 million Riverside Parkway debt. Debt on the 6.8-mile beltway could be paid off as soon as 2015, but councilors are worried about what would happen after that debt is paid off.

Without voter approval to spend the funds on another project, the excess tax dollars would go back to city residents.

To date, the city collected about $33 million in TABOR dollars from the 2007 ballot question that will go toward paying off the parkway debt, Financial Operations Director Jodi Romero said.



COMMENTS

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“Debt on the 6.8-mile beltway could be paid off as soon as 2015, but councilors are worried about what would happen after that debt is paid off.

Without voter approval to spend the funds on another project, the excess tax dollars would go back to city residents.”

It would be a BAD policy to actually return resident’s money to them?

As I’m not a city resident, I don’t have much say in the matter, but the 29 Road interchange isn’t a bad idea. It would cause growth in that area and be a boost to business. That being said, taxes should not be raised to pay for it. Why not save some money over the next few years to pay for it instead of borrow? The problem is that many people don’t have the discipline to save. If there is a dollar in the pocket—spend it. If you can get another piece of plastic—max it out. Unfortunately that is also what happens in government many times instead of actually cutting waste and inefficiency.

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