MONTROSE – A citizen petition to get a temporary 0.2 percent sales tax approved by City of Montrose voters at the April 3, 2012 election has garnered enough support to be on the ballot, pending signature validation.
The citizen group “Friends of the Montrose Recreation Center” gathered over 1,500 signatures from city-registered voters by the Tuesday (Jan. 3) deadline. This represents over 12 percent of registered voters and is more than double the number required to have the initiative put on the ballot.
“We are excited at the support we have seen, and are confident that we will have the valid signatures required to be on the April ballot,” said citizen organizer Jason Ullman. “Our next goal is to convince voters that this [new rec center] is as good an idea as we think it is for Montrose, and inspire them to get out and vote.”
The city council will announce at its January 17 meeting whether the petitions contain enough valid signatures.
If the proposal passes in April, the revenue it takes in would go toward funding the $22 million planned facility until the debt is covered, estimated to be 14 years. (As planned, the Montrose Recreation District has the ability to pay 71 percent of the annual costs of the new facility. The sales tax increase would cover the $779,000 annual gap.)
According to the citizen group’s press release, the 0.2 percent sales tax increase (representing $2 per $1,000 purchased) would raise Montrose’s tax from 7.65 percent to 7.85 percent. This still leaves it below sales taxes in most surrounding communities, including Delta, Durango and Gunnison (all 7.9 percent), as well as Telluride (8.4 percent). The City of Montrose estimates that approximately 50 percent of sales tax is collected from non-residents.
A sales tax initiative was recommended by the Montrose Recreation District-appointed citizen task force because it would have less impact on business owners than would a property tax increase. The idea was supported by 70 percent of the participants at community-input meetings, and allows the financing to be shared not only among residents of Montrose, but among those who come to shop in Montrose from other communities, as well.
Friends of the Montrose Recreation Center say that now is the time to invest in the future of recreation in the community, and that a sales tax initiative is the best way to accomplish this goal, as it blends user fees and tax funding to benefit everyone.
Some reasons for building now include low construction and financing costs, the creation of jobs in the community, and the ability to help position Montrose as a desirable Western Slope community for economic growth. In the long term, a quality recreation facility will bring revenue to the community for restaurants, hotels and retail establishments when tournaments are held at the Indoor Field House or Recreation Center, the release said.
The plan for the proposed 72,000 square foot facility includes an elevated 3-lane indoor walking/jogging track, a multi-court gymnasium, a weight and fitness area, an aerobics studio, a child watch area, a warm-water indoor leisure pool with lazy river, zero depth entry ‘beach’ and slides, a therapy pool and 8-lane lap pool, two racquetball courts, a party room, an indoor playground and a games room. In addition, the plan includes a conversion of the existing Aquatics Center into an Indoor Multi-Sport Turf Field.
Full information on the process and plan can be found at www.montrosecrc.org.