Moffat County split on transportation

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Moffat County residents were split 50/50 over a ballot question that would ease congestion on Eastern Slope highways an almost unheard of vote tally.

The result of the election Tuesday on Referendum A which allows the state to borrow up to $2.3 billion from future federal gas tax revenues to speed highway construction was a tie in Moffat County with 772 people voting in favor and 772 voting against.

On a statewide level, the measure passed. With 2,912 of the 3,068 precincts reporting, Referendum A received 460,980 "yes" votes and 283,532 "no" votes.

The state constructed highways on a "pay as you go" approach, rather than getting voter support to dip into its multi-million dollar tax surpluses. With the passage of this measure, the state will be able to borrow against future revenues to complete 28 critical highway construction projects across the state.

The projects would include the widening of Interstate 25 in the Denver area, the widening of U.S. Highway 50 from Grand Junction to Delta, reconstruction of U.S. Highway 160 over Wolf Creek Pass, interchange work in Pueblo, widening Interstate 25 north of Fort Collins and reconstruction of U.S. Highway 287 on the eastern plains.

The program drew support from organizations across the state, including Club 20 on the Western Slope.

Support was high in rural Northwest Colorado, despite the fact that none of the accelerated projects are in the region. County and city officials supported the referendum because they were concerned if it didn't pass, money allocated for Northwest Colorado transportation upgrades would be reallocated to projects with a more wide-spread effect.

According to Gov. Bill Owens, transportation problems have reached a crisis. Now that the state has the funding to complete some of those high-dollar projects, it plans to get started right away.

On the local voting front, measures allowing districts to de-Bruce to spend revenues received over limits imposed by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) passed across the board.

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District didn't cite a specific reason for wanting to keep excess revenues from the existing mill levy, from state and federal grants and all other revenue sources, but voters supported its bid anyway though not resoundingly. Of the 60 people voting on the issue, 40 voted "yes" and 20 voted "no." The vote allowed the district to de-Bruce, but not by a large margin.

The passage of Referendum 5A with 74.06 percent of the vote will allow the Craig Rural Fire Protection District to retain revenues earned by the creation of an intergovernmental hazardous response team. Both the City of Craig and Moffat County pledged funds for the creation of the team, but the Fire Protection District was unable to accept those funds because they were considered revenue and limited under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. Because residents voted in favor of the measure, there is nothing stopping the creation of a hazardous response team.

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