County supports city tax increase

If hike approved, money would go toward rec center

The Moffat County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to support the city's bid for a recreation center and not get into a race for a spot on the November ballot.

"I would certainly be willing to have the county back off and let you guys on the ballot this fall," Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.

City officials determined last month that a recreation center could be paid for using a combination use tax and sales tax, but were concerned after a joint city and county meeting in May that county officials would seek a tax increase at the same time. City officials were concerned they would submit a question and the county would preempt them because of the limit on tax questions per ballot and the process involved. Under state law, there can only be one tax increase question per election and the county's process for placing a question on the ballot can take one day where the city's can take up to six weeks.

Those concerns were laid to rest at the commissioners' regular meeting Tuesday.

"We certainly don't want to interfere with your election," Raftopoulos said. "We're very supportive of (a recreation center)."

The commissioners' decision was unanimous.

Raftopoulos said the county hasn't seriously discussed a tax increase and wasn't prepared to ask for one as soon as November.

A recreation center is expected to cost between $8 million and $12 million. The $8 million version does not include a lap pool, teen and senior rooms or a racquetball court, amenities the recreation center steering committee said they did not want to eliminate.

"If we're going to do it, we're going to do it right because we won't have another chance to do it again," City Manager Jim Ferree said.

The committee said residents would vote for certain amenities and eliminating those amenities would eliminate some community support, Ferree said.

A combination use and sales tax could pay for an $8 million facility with the remainder coming in foundation grants.

"Raising another $3 million is not going to be that easy," Ferree said. "These are all just preliminary cost estimates, maybe we'll be fortunate enough to get low bids," he said.

Other revenue sources include the Moffat County School District, which might help pay for the facility's operating costs in exchange for use of the lap pool for its competitive swim teams. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs will review a $1.2 million grant proposal for a recreation center in August.

Colorado Northwestern Community College has donated 13 acres of land and agreed to pay for more than half of the infrastructure costs.

"When we go to foundations, they like to see partnerships," Craig Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Pike said.

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