Public support needed for public safety plan

There’s probably a tiny minority of Grand Junction residents who will never believe that the City Council and city staffers haven’t already developed a new plan for elaborate and costly public safety facilities.

But the vast majority of denizens of this city, we believe, accept the idea that city officials really want to know what members of the public think is needed.

That’s why the City Council’s plan to obtain input from citizens — through mailed surveys and public forums this spring — will be so valuable. The council’s efforts will offer an opportunity for the majority of residents to suggest what sort of facilities they believe are needed for the police and fire departments, as well as how the city might pay for them.

There’s already been a great deal of time and words expended to dissect the failure of two ballot measures in November 2008, measures that would have raised the city sales tax to pay for new public safety buildings.

The down-spiraling economy of that autumn was the primary culprit. Voters rejected tax increases as the recession set in.

The complicated wording of the two intertwined ballot measures also played a part. So did the perception — which might have been different in a better economy — that the proposed police and fire buildings were too elaborate for the city’s needs.

Some voters also reached the conclusion that the plan was developed in secret by city staffers, then foisted on the citizenry. That wasn’t true. A group of independent city residents worked with city officials and council members to determine what was needed for new public safety buildings and how to pay for them.

Even so, the City Council’s plan now to obtain even broader citizen input is on the right track. We don’t know what Grand Junction residents will advocate in this still-uncertain economy. But they’re far more likely to be supportive of any initiative if they believe they had a hand in forging the plan.


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