Spending, revenue questions top issues facing voters on ballot

Money is the recurring theme of the Nov. 2 election with five questions asking voters in some form for permission to spend.

One question asks voters to allow the state to borrow against future federal revenues and the other four are de-Bruce questions governmental boards asking voters to approve spending over limits imposed by the 1994 Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR).

The election will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 2. Combined polling places are Craig City Hall, Moffat County Courthouse, Maybell Library and Dinosaur Town Hall.

Referendum A

Frequently referred to as TRANS (Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes), approval of this referendum will allow the state to borrow $1.7 billion against future federal gas-tax revenues to speed for constructing 28 transportation projects.

Proponents of this measure say the funds will help the state complete major transportation projects within 10 to 12 years instead of the anticipated 20 to 25 years. The 28 projects will impact 26 counties.

The referendum has been supported by many Western Slope entities including Club 20, Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Moffat County Board of Commissioners and Craig City Council. Support has been heavy on the Western Slope because some believe if this referendum does not pass, funds will be diverted from other statewide projects to complete the 28 priority projects.

Opponents have said the money will affect only 10 percent of residents at the cost of $115 million per mile.

"Minimum interest costs are $600 million and may exceed $1 billion. Interest builds no roads," opponents stated in written comments against the proposal. "(Referendum) A benefits bond dealers, land developers and highway contractors."

Others stated Referendum A will cost the average family $2,300 in taxes and that deficit spending is immoral.

Referred Measure 3A

Judicial interpretations of the TABOR amendment caused all sorts of money to be recorded as revenue, subject to limitations by the amendment. Grants, gifts and donations now count as a portion of revenue, resulting in many entities attempting to de-Bruce this November.

Moffat County School District has received several grants this year, including a $90,000 grant for rural schools. These grants push the school district above the revenue intake allowed by TABOR. In order to keep these funds, the school district is asking voters to say "yes" on Referred Measure 3A.

According to Superintendent of Schools Duane Wrightson, if this measure does not pass, the school district will have to return the money it was awarded in grants.

Voting "yes" on this question will not raise taxes.

Proponents say there is no downside to a vote in favor of this measure, and it will help keep the school district from returning to taxpayers for another tax increase.

"Let the school district keep and spend money it receives to educate the students in their school district," states a written comment in favor of the proposal.

No written comments against this proposal were recorded.

Referred Measure 4A

Referred Measure 4A will allow the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District to de-Bruce to keep revenue received from any source for water conservation issues.

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District is responsible for water conservation and protection of the water resources of the upper Yampa River basin.

Approving the measure will allow the district to spend tax revenues from the existing mill levy, from other state and federal grants and all other revenues the district receives.

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District is located in Routt County and eastern Moffat County. It was formed in 1966. The district built and operates Yamcolo Reservoir and Stagecoach Reservoir which provide water to ranchers and the municipal water systems of Yampa, Steamboat Springs, Hayden and industrial users.

No written comments against this proposal were recorded.

Referred Measure 5A

Similar to the situation the Moffat County School District finds itself in, the Craig Rural Fire Protection District finds itself unable to use certain sources of revenue because of TABOR limitations. Specifically, the fire protection district has entered an agreement with the city and the county to provide a hazardous materials response team. Both the city and county have donated funds toward the program, but the funds are considered revenue and therefore, cannot be spent.

Proponents of the measure say a "yes" vote would permit the district to carry out plans to form a hazardous materials response team, allow the district to pursue other kinds of creative funding arrangements and would permit the district to collect funds from sources other than tax revenues.

This referendum would not increase taxes.

No written comments against this proposal were recorded.

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