The right choice on public safety plan

Along with many others in this city, we believe the Grand Junction Police Department and its 911 emergency dispatch center truly need new facilities.

But we also believe, for a variety of reasons, that it would have been a mistake to ask voters again this year to pass a tax increase to pay for new buildings.

So it was welcome news, though hardly unexpected, when the Grand Junction City
Council on Wednesday voted against placing a tax increase for public safety buildings on the election ballot this November.

The majority of council members recognize the factors that argue against a ballot measure this year.

First and foremost, of course, is the economy. With unemployment still rising and various economic indicators sending mixed messages about whether the economy is really beginning to rebound, many voters — we suspect a large majority— are simply in no mood to approve a tax increase of any sort, even a quarter cent boost in the sales tax.

Beyond that, there is the fact that the city just isn’t ready.

At this time last year, when it was asking voters to approve a tax increase for a $98 million public safety initiative, the city already had a clear plan that had been developed with input from a large group of citizens. City officials explained the need and reasoning behind that plan at a variety of public functions.

There are multiple reasons that plan failed, but the faltering economy last autumn certainly eroded much of the public support that may have been there earlier.

This year, however, the City Council hasn’t even decided among five proposals of differing costs, much less undertaken the effort to explain and sell a chosen alternative to the public.

Finally, if the issue were put on the ballot again this year, and it lost for a second straight year, it would make it far more difficult to prepare and pass a third plan at some point in the future.

Far better to step back, reconsider and regroup, as the council is now doing. Then it can engage Grand Junction citizens in creating a public safety plan than can garner broader support when the economy improves.


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