A political committee formed to support a proposed tax increase has raised more than double the amount of money collected by a group that opposes it, according to campaign finance reports.
Durango voters must decide within the next two weeks whether to raise sales taxes by 0.5 percent to pay for maintenance, operation and construction of streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, alleys and other street improvements.
In efforts to persuade voters one way or another, two small-issue committees have raised money and campaigned on either side of the issue.
United for Durango’s Future, which opposes the proposed sales tax increase, raised $1,950 from Feb. 12 to March 11. During the same time, it spent $765 on flyers and yard signs.
David McHenry, a former City Council candidate and registered agent for the committee, said the campaign is centered around the idea that Durango hasn’t properly planned for infrastructure projects. The city has known about the problems with infrastructure for years, he said, but it hasn’t used other options to fund maintenance and repair before asking for a tax increase.
“We don’t think the city has done good fiscal planning,” McHenry said. “I love Parks and Rec, but it’s overstuffed with money, and we don’t have the money to fill potholes and build a new police department.”
Notable donations include:
$500 from McHenry.$250 from John Simpson, an outspoken resident who mounted opposition to a November 2018 proposed tax increase and filed a campaign finance complaint against four city councilors and the city manager. $100 donation from Tim Wolf, who has accused the city of threatening the use of eminent domain to build a northern extension of the Animas River Trail, which could be in violation of Great Outdoors Colorado’s policies, which awarded $1.4 million to the city for the proposed extension. Citizens for Making Durango A#1, which supports the proposed sales tax increase, raised $4,450 from Jan. 25 to March 10. In the same time, it spent $2,742 on yard signs, ballot flyers and graphic and website design.
Christina Rinderle – who is broker and owner at Durango Lands and Homes, public advocate for the A#1 committee and a former mayor – said the campaign has centered around the idea that approving the tax now will save the community money in the future. While she recognized that Durango is an expensive place to live, Rinderle said that voting against the tax will cost taxpayers more: As streets degrade, the cost of repairing them goes up exponentially.
The ballot measure isn’t permanent, she noted. It sunsets in 10 years and adds only 50 cents to a $100 purchase, Rinderle said.
“If we’re not maintaining our streets, it’s going to cost us a lot more in the long run,” Rinderle said.
Notable donations include:
$2,500 from Rinderle, who said she invested so much because she wanted to cover the up-front costs of running a campaign.$500 from Al Harper, owner of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. $100 from two city councilors who are term-limited as of this April, Mayor Sweetie Marbury and Dick White.Ballots are expected to be mailed to voters Saturday, which means eligible electors should receive them early next week. The municipal election is April 2.