Should voters say yes, a separate and legal taxing authority will be established to begin working on the region’s transportation issues. The resulting transportation authority would be governed by representatives from each of the governmental entities that sign the intergovernmental agreement. (Those entities include the Town of Mountain Village, San Miguel County, the Town of Norwood, the Town of Ophir, and representatives from down valley, including Sawpit and Placerville.)
“The only thing this [intergovernmental agreement] addresses is that entities will come together and plan on a regional basis,” Jenny Patterson, who chairs the San Miguel County Transit Advisory Committee, told members of council on Tuesday. After researching the details of and a regional transit authority, the Advisory Committee is recommending local governments move forward with the agreement. “We are not trying to fund a transit system but set an organization in place that can begin planning on a regional basis. We are asking governments to come together and work on a regional transportation authority.”
Patterson emphasized that the creation of a transportation authority, which must be approved by voters, will not raise taxes, but that, if one is ultimately approved, the authority’s representatives will then ascertain whether or not a taxing mechanism is needed, and then, any taxing mechanism must be approved by voters, as well. For now, she said, the creation of a legal transit authority would be a good step toward receiving state and federal transportation grants. Patterson also noted that the creation of a transportation authority within San Miguel County would be a step toward regional cooperation, perhaps with Ouray and Montrose counties.
Most members of council supported the notion of entering into an intergovernmental agreement that would put it on the ballot in November.
“A transit authority would have the power to sit down and say what makes the best sense for this entire region,” Mayor Stu Fraser said. “Right now it is not about taxing. If it does get to that, it has to be approved by the electorate. This is a package to make this region function better on a transportation level.”
“I support the mayor’s comments,” Councilmember Chris Myers said. “This advisory committee has shown the inefficiencies in place and I think we need to go forward with this. I think it is worth every penny and I support it.”
Councilmember Thom Carnevale disagreed and did not support entering into an agreement. “It is not the concept that I dislike,” Carnevale said. “I believe in cooperation within the region but I keep looking at funding…I am not supportive of putting it on the ballot at this time.”
Every councilmember besides Carnevale agreed to move forward on the issue. A draft of the intergovernmental agreement could be up for approval at council’s next regular meeting.
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