Quarter-cent sales-tax issue on ballot
Voters to be asked to fund downtown improvements
The Grand Junction City Council unanimously approved the language. Now, it will be up to voters in April whether to increase sales taxes a quarter-cent for the construction of an events center and major improvements to Two Rivers Convention Center.
“The discussion in the community has been going on for a couple years, some community members say several years,” Grand Junction City Manager Greg Caton said at Wednesday night’s meeting.
If approved by voters, the extra tax dollars would go toward construction of a more than 5,000-seat event center and improvements at Two Rivers Convention Center.
Grand Junction’s portion of sales taxes would increase from 2.75 percent to 3 percent.
“This project is believed to be critical in keeping Grand Junction as a provider of regional services,” according to the city’s report. “This venue could bring new events to the area including large indoor sporting events, concerts, family shows and can host graduations, larger conferences, and conventions. This project would serve the growing recreation, entertainment, convention, and tourism industry, this includes economic benefit to restaurants, hotels and motels.”
Caton said having an events center and an improved convention center would create between 200 to 240 jobs a year in the surrounding community. It could create an additional $30 million spending a year or nearly $1 billion in spending in 30 years. A quarter-percent increase in sales tax is estimated to cost the average Grand Junction household an additional $30 a year, Caton said.
The city said it compared the sales tax rates of 25 comparable cities and the average rate is 3.3 percent. For example, Fruita, Delta and Palisade have rates of 3 percent; Montrose’s rate is at 3.3 percent.
If approved, in the first year after it goes into effect in July, the tax would generate $2.3 million. In its first full fiscal year, the additional tax would generate $4.6 million a year.
The city said it would not issue more than $65 million in debt and secure an interest rate of no more than 5 percent.
Annual debt payments for the city would be between $3.5 and $3.9 million. The repayment on the debt will be no more than $134 million, over a 30-year term.
Councilor Barbara Traylor Smith said she believes an event center is needed because the current Two Rivers Convention Center has never been large enough to host large conventions that promote economic development.
Also, as Grand Junction struggles to maintain its regional draw as a retail destination, the city needs to look elsewhere to draw visitors.
“This is one opportunity for us to do that,” she said. “This is where we can make ourselves stand out and have the ability to have events.”