New angle on recreation center

Residents debate whether to have extra tax pay for addition to city

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Lynne Herring is not opposed to a recreation center in Craig. She does not, however, want the community to pay more taxes to build it.

Herring, a Moffat County resident with a local, family-owned business, attended the Community Recreation Center Steering Committee meeting Tuesday at the Center of Craig, which was open to the public.

"Can you build a rec center without raising people's taxes?" Herring asked a member of the project's architecture firm, Denver-based Sink Combs Dethlefs.

"You can if you have a lot of money sitting in the bank, as a city," answered Andrew Barnard, Sink Combs vice president.

Barnard's company helped consult, design and campaign for a tax-funded recreation center proposal in 2003, which failed at the voting booth. The Craig City Council recently approved a $20,000 allocation out of the city's Parks and Recreation Department reserves to hire Sink Combs Dethlefs for the same duties it completed about five years ago.

Barnard appeared in person at the meeting Tuesday and gave a slide presentation of different recreation centers his company has worked with across the state and region.

During his presentation, he mentioned the "unusual" case of a recreation center in Ketchum, Idaho. It took about 10 years to raise the money, but a community group eventually collected about $22 million and built a YMCA in town.

Herring asked why the steering committee didn't want to go that route. If corporate sponsors and private donors want to help shape this community, she said, then let them, but don't ask for tax money.

Steering committee members expect to put a tax bond question on the April 2009 ballot asking local voters to increase the city sales tax by 1 cent, which Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike said would generate about $1.5 million each year based on current spending patterns.

The city has a 2.25 cents sales tax on the books now, in addition to the county's 2 cents sales tax.

Certain expenses - gas, electricity, groceries, farm equipment, machinery, machinery tools and charitable donations - are exempt from sales tax in Colorado.

In Craig and Moffat County, the tax applies to all other purchases, including retail goods. The recreation center tax, if approved as planned, would add 1 cent for every dollar in cost to those purchases.

For example, a DVD that costs $19.99 would be subject to an additional 20 cents in sales tax under the steering committee's planned ballot question.

A portion of the tax would expire after a recreation center facility is built, with a portion remaining on the tax rolls to help subsidize operations and programs.

"Right now, with my income as it is, I have to decide between play or food, heat or play," Herring said. "I don't want to spend any more taxes on play. This is a great idea, and I'd love to have this for my kids, but let's pay for it before we get it."

Other residents in the audience initially assumed Herring didn't support building a new recreation center.

"We're trying to build a community, also," one woman said. "I feel like if we build a good recreation center, we're going to bring in good families."

A man in the back of the room added, "The sales tax would be a penny on the dollar."

After some discussion, Pike said it would be a great idea for the Steering committee to look at corporate and private sponsors. Their contributions could be added to Colorado Department of Local Affairs grants to make the facility as good as it can be and reduce the burden on local residents.

Barnard said the steering committee will meet again in the next four to six weeks, though a definite time and location are not set.

He expects residents at the next meeting to establish a budget limit and start to define what features are most important for Moffat County, such as pools, gyms and community meeting rooms.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

Comments

taxslave 6 years, 3 months ago

Let me add this....we've already been taxed for a hospital that is DOA......where are the voices to defend what is going on?

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grannyrett 6 years, 3 months ago

I can't believe they are still discussing this! With the economy going down the toilet, they are still pushing for a rec center? What are people going to do when it comes to a choice between heating your home this winter or buying food? I know, go to a rec center. Bet you could keep your toes warm and toasty there.The city paid $20,000 to be told that if they already have the money, they can build it without asking for a tax increase? I'd be laughing so hard, I'd fall out of my chair, except I'm so stunned I can't believe it.

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bigrred1576 6 years, 3 months ago

Let them ask the Mines, Power Plant, and other large employers around the area to contribute. Talk with the H R people and have workers comp rehab, or maybe wellness days. I would love to see a Rec Center, but not with my tax dollars>

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oldsage 6 years, 3 months ago

Reality check! Have any of these fools looked at the financial markets lately? I warned everyone last year about how stupid building a new school and hospital was. We are saddled with that debt and they still want to spend more on credit and/or raise taxes on all of us so they can have the things "They" want.

Well the article says, "Certain expenses - gas, electricity, groceries, farm equipment, machinery, machinery tools and charitable donations - are exempt from sales tax in Colorado."

Except in Craig where they do charge Sales Tax on Groceries, LIE, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie your little fannies off about anything and everything to get what you want. Try saying, "It's for the children" too while your at it. The monetary system world wide is failing all around us and you fools want to get in debt more and want to tax the $#i+ out of all the poor local slobs who can't afford it so you can have a memorial to yourself. That is what most of these projects are people, little memorials to the elected few who want to have something to show for their "service" to the community.

I have seen this time and time again. The retired city council members say "I was instrumental in building that Pool, that Park, that new Jail, that new City Hall, that new whatever. Wouldn't it be nice if someone would run for office who would run on the platform (and keep to it) of no unnecessary expenditures like it was their own money? Not one of these Jerks would build a Rec Center if they had to pay for it themselves! Somehow these self selected and elected elite think that they can just tax a little here and a little there and it has no effect, except at the end of the month a family of six doesn't have enough. Mark my word, 90% of the people of this community are going to wish that the community had "made do" with the old Middle School building and the Old Hospital!

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taxslave 6 years, 3 months ago

We didn't vote any of this crap in....it's called VOTER FRAUD....

Everyone was misled by the bonds for the hospital. Appears they get our taxes whether they get funding or not.

It doesn't really matter much anymore.....watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vhf9Kw... .

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cforevereyez 6 years, 3 months ago

This is a 45% increase in sales tax for the city of Craig. 45 PERCENT for a place to recreate! That $19.99 DVD they use for an example is a joke. On a $40,000 vehicle, it's an extra $400 - I should say ONLY $400. I do believe that city sales tax is also charged on gas, electric and telephone bills.

In todays Steamboat Pilot, there's an article that states the city of Steamboat is cutting back on capital budget projects by 50% in 2009 and 2010 looks even worse. They are looking at some tough years coming up. They had the wisdom to vote down a rec center in Steamboat last year because the community could not afford it. Here in Craig we party on like there's no tomorrow. We spend $20,000 of OPM (other people's money), to bring in a consultant to sell us this fiasco, at a time when any one in his right mind can see the tough times coming up. The slick sales have only just begun.

My biggest disappointment is that I hear no one on our city council having reservations about this project. Perhaps in a few years when our economic future is more certain, we can look at this, but at this time, there is no way I can support a project of this magnitude, without knowing what the future holds.

Does anyone wonder why they pick a spring election? The general public does not show up to vote in the spring, and supporters of the Rec Center will gather their supporters and hope to sneak the yes vote in. They do it every time. You seldom see tax initiatives on a fall ballot.

If anyone wants to see what a fine job the City of Craig does with recreation money, take a walk on that Ridgeview hiking path from Ridgeview to Murdochs. It has been totally neglected. Now they want more, and it's ONLY a 45% increase in the sales tax that they're after.

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oldgezzer 6 years, 2 months ago

yup the good ol' boy system at work again. this would probably be built be the same guys that do all the other things. so they just keep coming up with things to pad their own pockets. what will be next if a rec center goes through? there is better things to do with 20 grand. maybe find a way to bring some real business or industry to this town instead of restraunts and liqour stores. coal wont last forever, and when its gone who will be left around to use a rec center. anyone remember how the history of the heath club has gone?

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oldgezzer 6 years, 2 months ago

oh and one more thing, check your electric bill. there is a county and city tax on it . about 3.16% for the county and 3.55% for the city. thats what they call exempt? where does that money go?

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irishbrat 6 years, 2 months ago

i tell my kids to want in one hand and poop in the other. Except i don't use that exact word.

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grannyrett 6 years, 2 months ago

Patrick-I don't know who you're quoting, but tell him to sit on it! It's patriotic to want our country out of the financial mess it's in. How on earth do they -the city-think they can pay for this? It really makes me mad that they are still considering it. This country is in such a financial mess, I don't know what the heck is going to happen, and the city acts like they have a money tree. How on earth they expect to even put it on a ballot is beyond me. Does any one know how much it costs to even put an issue like this on the ballot? I knew at one time, but have forgotten. I know that it costs a bundle just to put something up for a vote. STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!

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oldgezzer 6 years, 2 months ago

maybe they can have a tax increase to get this on the ballot, lol.

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lonelyone 6 years, 2 months ago

except for Joe, he was not in favor of this, remember!?!?!

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bigrred1576 6 years, 2 months ago

Maybe we can have a total recall election of all the city council members at the same time as we vote NO on a rec center.

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irishbrat 6 years, 2 months ago

maybe they could do a study how much it costs to put it on the ballot?

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grannyrett 6 years, 2 months ago

Maybe bigrred has a good idea. irish--how much ya gonna charge to do this study? $20,000 sounds like a nice round figure!!! LOL

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