County nixes Rec District bid for November ballot
Commissioners reject special taxing district’s effort to go to a vote in order to build a rec center in Craig
Craig won’t be getting a recreation center in the immediate future.
The Moffat County board of county commissioners passed a resolution Wednesday in a special meeting rejecting the service plan for the Northwest Colorado Parks and Recreation District, a would-be special taxing district in the county whose primary purpose would have been to fund and build a rec center in the city.
Citing unsatisfactory evidence presented to the board of the need and potential long-term sustainability for such a district, the commissioners blocked the issue from going to the November ballot, where voters would have had the opportunity to decide if they wanted their property taxes to go toward such a venture.
“The Board does not take this lightly,” the resolution read, expressing thanks to the group, the Northwest Colorado Recreation Foundation, that put together the effort to get the issue on the ballot.
Had it gone to ballot and eventually been passed by voters, the special taxing district would have taxed 9.96 mills, increasing the property tax on a $200,000 home by $142.43 per year, and $577.68 per year on a similar-value business.
But, at least for the near future, that won’t happen.
The county’s resolution made five arguments regarding unsatisfactory evidence, all related to the five criteria required to be met for the commissioners to approve a service plan by statute.
The board disagreed that there was “sufficient existing and projected need” for the service.
“While evidence indicated there is a need for a pool, for an indoor walking area in winter conditions, and for gymnasiums with court space, evidence also indicated there are organized activities and recreational opportunities through the City of Craig Parks and Recreation and the Moffat County Schools,” the resolution read, “as well as many opportunities for recreation in the community.”
Further, the county argued, the services proposed would not serve Sunbeam, Maybell or Elk Springs, “whose residents have ample opportunities for recreation closer to home and are unlikely to travel because of the distance to a recreation center in Craig.”
The board also argued that it wasn’t satisfied “existing service is inadequate for present and projected needs.”
“Moffat County has existing services which are adequate services for present and projected needs for recreation,” the resolution read. “Although it would be nice to have a covered pool, a place to walk safely in inclement weather, and additional court space for basketball and similar sports, the existing recreational services are not inadequate.”
Third, the county felt the economic impact would be more burdensome than beneficial to taxpayers.
Fourth, the financial viability was considered unclear given the information presented, the board said, citing 398 property owners who requested exemption from the proposed taxing district, all of which the county itself had granted.
“With so many properties excluded from the District, no evidence was available regarding the financial ability of the District to discharge the proposed indebtedness on a reasonable basis,” the resolution read.
Finally, the board argued the district was not in the best interests of the area.
“Testimony to the Board was more negative than positive, and many people, including business owners, are struggling financially in the aftermath of COVID-19,” the resolution read. “Employment opportunities at the mines and the power plant are decreasing and will soon cease to be available. The creation of the proposed special district with the proposed service plan is not in the best interests of the area.”
The Foundation seeking the ballot measure expressed disappointment on its Facebook page Wednesday night, thanking supporters.
“While the (Northwest Colorado Recreation District Foundation) is disappointed by this decision, we remain steadfast in our commitment to expand opportunities for indoor swimming, walking, running, basketball, volleyball, pickleball, drop-in child care so parents can work-out, and for seniors and teenagers to gather in a welcoming space,” the Foundation wrote.
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