Ballot Question 2A for the new police station and maintaining the streets has brought an unusual comparison of apples and oranges in an op-ed published in the Herald (10/13).
I don’t live in Montrose, drive on their streets or call their police when I need help. The citizens of Montrose have a sweet town. They are not a college town, or operate an airport, a library, and a recreation or transit department. They do not have thousands of people in their town at any given moment for events, races and business, or international and American tourists from all 50 states. Montrose pays through special districts for many services that Durango provides.
Montrose does not have Fort Lewis, Purgatory, the train or Mesa Verde within its economic region. Apples and oranges is not a good comparison of municipalities.
The issue revolves around the General Revenue Fund sales tax, not the 2005 or 2015 dedicated sales tax for parks, trails, open space, facilities and trees. The City Council listened to residents who said, “Maintain what you have.” It was an epic process that lasted over one year listening to residents at 45 meetings with 5,000 comments, surveys and participation online as well as face-to-face conversations.
Our police station was built in the 1950s and was a car dealership remodeled for decades into offices. Finally, the closets were taken and made into offices. The chief would like to hire six new officers. Without your help, they will not be hired. Police officers need technology, body cameras and more room than the inefficient car dealership building provides. Criminal evidence is stored in zircons off site. Patrol and personal cars should be in a secure area. The time has come for residents to help the police department.
In 2A, $2 million a year for a new station, operations, code enforcement and maintenance is needed. The bond sunsets in 2043. Bonding requires longer terms for better interest rates. The general revenue, or sales tax, supports the police and the street departments. Sales tax has been a roller-coaster ride and in the negative zones due to internet and New Mexico shopping, and declining enrollment at FLC.
Failing streets such as Thomas Drive, Animas View Drive, Junction Creek Road, Clovis Drive, Sawmill Road, Forest Avenue and North College all need complete reconstruction – curbs, gutters, sidewalks, sewer improvements, ADA ramps and asphalt paving. Two million dollars a year for projects is estimated in addition to the $2 million for keeping up with current street maintenance. Invest in your streets and take care of what you have is the message.
Council listened to residents who said, “raise property and sales tax.” The sales tax increase equals 55 cents on $100. The property tax increase equals an assessed value of 5.4 mills more.
For example, the assessed value – not market value – of a house of $400,000 would be $13 more a month.
Farmington is raising its sales tax to pay for street infrastructure. Our fire department contract for $3 million is also in 2A. Yes, it costs a lot to maintain a city like Durango.
In the frugal 2019 budget, there are no new employees in the General Revenue Fund and no street projects. Patching and striping will continue, but failing streets will continue to fail. Invest in your hometown.
I have faith in city residents who said 2A is good for families and good for business.
Sweetie Marbury is mayor of Durango, a position rotating among members of City Council. Reach her at SweetieMarbury@DurangoGov.org.