Fruita voters facing medical pot, TABOR issues
Fruita voters will have an opportunity this spring to help guide the future of the city in a couple of different ways.
The Fruita City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday night to place on the ballot a pair of questions that will ask voters whether they want to approve a revenue-retention measure and ban medical marijuana centers.
A citizens committee spent last fall studying the effects of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights on the city and ultimately recommended asking city residents to decide whether to lift TABOR-imposed limits on how much money the city can collect and spend.
Fruita voters have previously agreed to those exemptions four times: 1993, 1995, 2000 and 2006. The most recent de-Brucing measure — a term named for TABOR author Douglas Bruce — allowed the city to keep the extra money for six years and spend it on capital projects and maintenance of those projects. The measure expires at the end of next year.
If approved in April, another six-year TABOR exemption would take effect and would allow the city to spend the extra money on capital projects and maintenance of those projects.
The city has estimated that by the end of 2012, it will have collected and spent nearly $3.3 million on capital improvements as a result of the most recent six-year exemption. It also estimated it was able to generate more than $15.6 million in grants it otherwise wouldn’t have been able to obtain.
“The committee agreed that this request is not a tax increase and that the city of Fruita has used the revenue generated over the TABOR limits in an efficient, effective and logical manner and, most importantly, as it promised in 2006. Therefore, in order for the city government to continue to meet the needs of the community, a fifth revenue retention measure with the conditions outlined above should be put before the voters in April of 2012,” committee members wrote in a report to the council.
The committee noted, however, its belief that this will likely be the most difficult of the five de-Brucing measures to pass, largely because of the struggling economy, the sales-tax increase to fund the Fruita Community Center and recent increases in sewer bills.
In addition to a TABOR override, Fruita voters also will decide whether to prohibit the commercial sale of medical marijuana in the city.
Council members last year adopted a ban on any license or permit to operate a center that runs through June 30. The April ballot measure, if approved, would make that moratorium permanent. There are currently no medical marijuana centers in Palisade.
Voters in Mesa County and the city of Grand Junction previously banned such businesses. Palisade voters in November permitted them to operate in town.
Fruita’s election is April 3.