Clifton conundrum

Here’s some information that should come as no surprise: Clifton and Fruitvale residents want to keep their property taxes low, but their level of government services high.

In that regard, the denizens of Clifton and Fruitvale are like virtually every other taxpayer in this country. We want our government to do a lot for us, but we don’t want to pay very much for those services.

The real conundrum in the Clifton-Fruitvale responses to a survey sponsored by Mesa County comes in questions about how the communities should address their future needs.

The survey of 400 Clifton-Fruitvale residents reveals that the majority of them are split — nearly equally — in support of annexation to the city of Grand Junction or incorporation as their own city. Some 36 percent favored annexation and 40 percent backed incorporation. The remaining 24 percent either didn’t want either option or didn’t know which they preferred.

In strictly economic terms — receiving the most services for the least tax cost — annexation is clearly the best answer for residents of Clifton and Fruitvale. According to county projections, property taxes in the area would rise 2 1/2 times as much if the area were incorporated, compared to annexation by Grand Junction.

And annexation would provide a higher level of services.

However, even though tax rates and service levels are obviously high priorities for the Clifton-Fruitvale folks, they aren’t the only considerations.

Maintaining their own community identity — either as unincorporated portions of Mesa County or as a separate municipality — is also an important idea for many who live in these densely populated parts of the valley.

Mesa County officials began the process of looking at potential alternatives for the Clifton-Fruitvale future, asking area residents what they desired, because county government is not well-suited to providing urban-type services to what is undeniably an urban area.

If people who live in that east-central part of the Grand Valley truly see the economic issues as their top priority, they should reconsider their views on annexation.

And, if they don’t find that option acceptable, they should be prepared to pay more to maintain or increase the level of government services they receive.


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