MONTROSE — The Montrose Recreation District Board of Directors voted last week to ask the Montrose City Council to place a sales tax increase in front of voters next spring to raise $11.7 million to go toward the construction of a new community recreation center.
If the request is taken up by council and approved, a proposed increase from 7.65 to 7.85 percent, or .02 percent increase, could be voted on in the spring.
It was not determined at press time when the council will debate the tax increase ballot measure. But Montrose Recreation District Executive Ken Sherbenou said Monday he expects the council to discuss the issue next month.
The new sales tax would expire after it raised $11.7 million to go toward the estimated $25.2 million cost for construction of the proposed Community Recreation Center off Woodgate Rd.
Sherbenou said the difference between the cost of the construction and the funds raised by the new tax would be raised through grants, private fundraising, and partnerships.
The district's primary message is that Montrose is the last sizable Western Slope community, besides Grand Junction, to lack a recreation center. Voters in Delta, Cortez, Gunnison, Durango and Fruita all passed one percent tax increases to fund their community recreation centers, five times the tax increase the Montrose Recreation District is seeking.
In the spring of 2012, the district's proposed Measure A, a 0.2 percent sales tax increase for 10 to 14 years to fund a new recreation center, failed by 599 votes, or 2,971 to 2,372. The estimated cost then for the rec center was around $22 million, but due to a recent uptick in construction costs, Sherbenou said the total project estimate has gone up by about 12 percent.
This year, with more aggressive fundraising and savings the district will present voters, along with along with its plan, a down payment of nearly $2 million, 26 acres of land it has acquired, and partnerships like one with the school district.
"I think people are feeling good about the chance of this proposal compared to the last," Sherbenou said.
On Nov. 20, the district held one in a series of public meetings to educate the public on its final site plan and project financing. Sherbenou said that nearly 200 people were in attendance at those meetings and the atmosphere was "very positive."
Attendees were handed surveys and those results were given to the board on Nov. 21, when they voted to pursue the sales tax initiative.
Of those attending the meetings, 80 percent strongly agreed Montrose was in need of a community recreation center. One of the questions in the survey stated, "because of the state of the economy, now is not the time to be building and financing a CRC," to which 85 percent of respondents "strongly disagreed."
Another question asked if the district should purchase and operate the Black Canyon Golf Course and package the golf facility with the CRC. Sixty-three percent of attendees said the district should not pursue funding to purchase the golf course as part of the ballot initiative.
According to the district, use of the proposed recreation center is projected to be 679 daily visitors, compared with 212 who are currently served at the aging Montrose Aquatic Center. Part of the $25.2 million would go to renovate the Aquatic Center into an indoor turf field.
Residents can inspect the plan presented at the Nov. 20 meeting, including site plans and financing at www.montroserec.com.