Confusing, unspecific Measure B should be rejected by city voters
By Gary Roahrig
The Grand Junction City Council asked the citizens of Grand Junction to approve taking the lid off the cookie jar for the Riverside Parkway (to spend excess sales taxes limited by the TABOR Amendment). The voters said, “Yes.” Now the council wants us to leave the lid off the cookie jar with Measure B.
Referred Measure B must be defeated. Elections have consequences, and the upcoming municipal election could have decades of negative financial consequences.
Measure B is a multimillion-dollar money grab concocted by the current City Council.
It appears the council is taking a page from the Washington, D.C., “book of spending.” The council wants to spend an undefined amount of money for an undefined number of years for open-ended projects without projected costs, timing and all other pertinent information that citizens deserve to have to make an informed decision.
The initial discussion of what became Measure B started last December. A survey question was posed: “What is your preferred project to spend the money on?” It was the Grand Junction to-do list with something for everyone. When the people surveyed said, “Spend, spend, spend,” the council jammed Measure B onto the ballot.
I wasn’t one of the people surveyed. Were you?
On Jan. 11, Measure B was discussed at a council session that did not include this topic on the posted agenda. (The press, understandably, did not cover it. Can you say open-meetings law violation?) Five days later, a 6-1 vote placed Measure B on the April 2 ballot.
Measure B is not a simple, understandable issue that allows citizens to easily determine just what it is. It has been written in such a confusing fashion that even the mayor had to repeatedly ask the city attorney what Measure B intended. With an opening line that says, “Without any increase in taxes or debt ...” followed by a bunch of road names, techno-mumbo-jumbo and no vision of improvement, it leaves one wondering what the council hopes to accomplish.
No excess TABOR funds will be available until after 2015. The city has estimated the future excess to be $2.4 million, but it recently admitted that it erred in the method used to estimate future excesses. A better estimate is $4 million that could be returned to the people. I would welcome a credit on my water and sewer bill.
Why the rush by the City Council to get all those road improvements included in Measure B on the ballot? The city has significant funds set aside and budgeted for annual capital improvements and has indicated it has enough to do the North Avenue and Horizon Drive improvement projects without the funds that Measure B will provide. What is so pressing that Measure B requires voter approval in April 2013?
The City Council has exhibited little self-discipline when it comes to spending and placing citizens in debt. Council members have made it abundantly clear they don’t care what the voters say. After the citizens voted, “No” on the nearly $100 million Public Safety Building in 2010, the council proceeded to construct the Public Safety Building using certificates of participation. COPs are a legal option that are sometines used to circumvent the will of the people.
When two members of the council were asked why they did not support the will of the people, they said that we live in a republic and, as the elected representatives of the people, it was their (the City Council’s) decision to make. I fully understand the difference between a republic and a democracy. I also understand character and integrity. And I understand trust and ego.
In a republic, elected officials do make the final decisions. As citizens, we trust that those we have elected will maintain character and integrity and will honor the will of the people. When Measure B is voted down, I hope City Council members will not overreact and issue COPs for future projects.
A vision for the future is not limited to proponents of Measure B. Many people share a similar vision. We also understand how the process to override TABOR works. We should be allowed to vote on separate, well-defined and understandable projects. The large number of undefined projects in Measure B amounts to a gross overreach by our City Council.
The city ballots will be mailed Monday. Please put the lid back on the cookie jar. Let’s hold the council members accountable and insist on transparency. Let them know we have not lost our forward-thinking vision. We just want to follow an established process that works.
I urge all Grand Junction voters to vote “No” on Measure B.
Gary Roahrig is a Grand Junction resident.