Voters say ‘no’ with authority

Rec center, water storage, gambling measures all die resoundingly in Moffat County and across the state

Christina M. Currie

City of Craig residents were asked to fund a recreation center in Tuesday’s election and their answer was a resounding “no.”

In an election that ranks in the top three for voter turnout, 1,391 residents opposed a combination half-cent sales tax increase and the implementation of a 2.75 percent automobile use tax to fund a recreation center.

“I’m not at all surprised,” resident and business owner Linda Booker said. “It’s kind of what I figured from what I heard, the calls I got and the people who stopped me in the store to talk about it.”

The clear sentiment from opponents was that the timing was off, Booker said. The $12 million project was proposed in a time of national, state and county economic crisis and following the closure of Craig’s only nursing home — a loss several residents said should be remedied before tackling any new construction projects.

“I don’t oppose a recreation center as an idea, I just think the timing is wrong with the economy so stressed — we don’t know where that’s going,” Booker said.

The economy is one of the reason recreation center proponents went forward. Low interest rates got them a lot more “bang for the buck” than waiting would have.

More than 558 residents had voted in favor of a recreation center. Residents would have gotten a 57,000-square-foot facility with a six-lane lap pool, leisure pool with lazy river, teen, senior and community rooms, a fitness center, racquetball courts and a six-point indoor shooting range.

Booker said she was pleased with the voter turnout and that there was a clear majority.

“It wouldn’t have worked if there wasn’t a resounding “yes,” she said. “This vote sends a message to officials about how money is being spent.”

Booker attributes the proposal’s failure to past construction projects that left a bad taste in resident’s mouths.

“I think the reason it went down is because people have a pretty good memory for what happened with the public safety center,” she said. “I don’t think we were told the truth about that project.”

County officials are struggling to make payments on the $13 million jail and justice center and are attempting to refinance the facility — which would increase the overall cost — to lower the payments.

Moffat County residents were in a “no” frame of mind Tuesday. Not a single ballot measure passed in Moffat County, which also reflects statewide results where no proposal passed.

Amendment 32, which would have changed the way residential property tax is collected, generating more revenue for schools, special districts, the county and the state, was shot down 2,170 to 432 in Moffat County and by 657,905 to 190,336 in the state.

Residents voted against a measure that would have generated $78 million for the state without increasing taxes. Amendment 33 would have allowed the placement of video lottery terminals in four dog tracks, one horse track and in all casinos. Moffat County voters said “no” as did the state.

State Referendum A was highly controversial but, in the end, the message from opponents seemed to outweigh the argument in favor of creating a new funding source for additional water storage.

In Moffat County, the measure died 2,265 to 463 and in the state 578,704 people voted against it, outnumbering the 288,191 in favor.

Opponents have said the measure didn’t do what it was intended to do — create more water storage following the worst drought in 100 years.

“We are convinced that Referendum A does not present a viable solution to Colorado’s water needs and may even harm rather than help agricultural producers and rural communities throughout the state,” said John Stencil, president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

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