Not this year
A public-safety proposal that might go to voters this fall could be substantially slimmer than the $98 million behemoth voters soundly rejected last November. In fact, one plan under consideration would be little more than half the cost of last year’s plan.
The problem for the Grand Junction City Council, however, is that voters appear to be in no mood for any tax increase right now — in large part due to the economy — regardless of the size of the project.
An informal survey conducted by Councilman Bill Pitts certainly isn’t a statistically valid poll, but it is instructive and in line with public rumblings we’ve heard regarding a possible public-safety initiative on this year’s ballot. Of approximately 150 people Pitts said he questioned about the ballot initiative, all but one told him they would vote against such a measure, regardless of cost.
The City Council should listen to that chorus of naysayers and reject the urge to put the measure on the ballot this year.
We understand the city’s dilemma. There is little question a new police headquarters and 911 emergency dispatch center are needed. But rushing something to the ballot this year, when little groundwork has been laid and public sentiment is strongly opposed to tax increases, would likely result in another ballot-box loss and an even greater setback for new public-safety facilities.
The five possible ballot initiatives presented to the council this week have several things in common. Whether the most expensive alternative at $78.6 million or the cheapest at $53.8 million, they would all include a new police and fire administration building with new facilities for the 911 dispatch center, as well as a new downtown fire station.
And all five would boost the city sales tax by one quarter cent, and leave it in effect until 2040.
But is the $53 million alternative definitely the least-expensive option out there? Couldn’t an option be crafted just to meet the urgent need for a new police headquarters and a new 911 dispatch center?
These are all questions the City Council should examine thoroughly before it plunges ahead with another ballot measure. But more importantly, council members should heed the warning of the many people telling them: “Not this year.”