Low profile may have hurt river district | VailDaily.com

Low profile may have hurt river district

Heather McGregor

The question would have exempted the river district from the tax revenue and spending limits of the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, also called TABOR.

Headwaters counties close to the Continental Divide approved the question by percent majorities ranging from 52 to 58 percent. But those votes were not enough to outweigh “no” votes in downstream counties, where the question failed with 55 percent to 69 percent of voters casting “no” votes.

The total vote count for the 15 counties was 40,141 in favor and 51,840 against.

The river district is headquartered in Glenwood Springs.

Most of the headwaters counties that approved the question have already passed similar TABOR exemptions for local city or county governments, said Eric Kuhn, general manager of the river district. So they are familiar with how the exemption works, he said.

Moreover, headwaters counties are under far more pressure from transmountain water diversions and residents have a clearer understanding of the services provided by the river district, he said.

That’s a turnaround from the early days of the river district, Kuhn said, when the downstream counties favored funding increases for the agency and headwaters counties opposed it.

Kuhn said the largest reason for the loss remains the river district’s low profile in the 15 counties it serves.

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