Water tax nixed 55 to 45 percent | VailDaily.com

Water tax nixed 55 to 45 percent

Cliff Thompson

They turned their thumbs down – 66,946 to 53,745 – on a proposed property tax increase of $2.20 per $100,000 of assessed valuation that would have raised $2.7 million annually. That’s 55 percent to 45 percent.

Eagle County voters bucked that trend and voted 3,842 to 3,107 in favor of the tax increase. They were one of only four counties – Hinsdale, Pitkin and Gunnison – that supported the measure.

But it was Mesa County, home of Grand Junction and the county with the largest population in the Colorado River District, that swung the vote. There, the 15,855 voters defeated the issue 57 percent to 43 percent.

Defeat of the measure may have multiple causes, said the dstrict’s Peter Roessman

“People were reluctant to raise taxes, and if the language on the ballot had been more descriptive it would have given a clearer idea of what we were attempting to do,” he said.

It’s the first time since the founding of the district in 1937 that the district has proposed a tax increase. The district was formed to protect water users and water supplies in the Colorado River drainage that are heavily impacted by diversions to the thirsty cities along Colorado’s Front Range.

Had the proposal been approved, the district would have used the money generated, as well as some from the 2002 Farm Bill, to build new reservoirs, improve existing reservoirs and line leaky ditches to improve water delivery. It would also have been used to acquire additional water stored in federally controlled reservoirs such as Reudi Reservoir on the Fryingpan River in Eagle County.

The defeat of the tax increase means business as usual at the district.

“We will proceed with the tools we have available,” said Roessman. “We will be keeping an eye on what the Legislature does. They often look at things with a Front Range perspective.”

The Colorado River District is roughly contiguous with the Colorado River drainage, which in area is one-fifth of the state’s surface area.

Less-than-normal precipitation regionwide last year and warmer- and drier-than-normal conditions through the summer caused rivers and streams to reach flows that were 25 percent of normal. Heavy September precipitation and even heavier snow in October has reduced, but not eliminated, the specter of drought.

At a glance

Election results by county

(Note: In some counties, only portions of the county are in the district)

Delta County – 7,375 votes; 59 percent “no”

Eagle County – 6,949 votes; 53 percent “yes”

Garfield County – 8,992 votes; 59 percent “no”

Grand County – 3,804 votes; 55 percent “no”

Gunnison County – 4,938 votes; 55 percent “yes”

Hinsdale County – 473 votes; 52 percent “no”

Mesa County – 27,815 votes; 57 percent “no”

Moffat County – 1,972 vote; 68 percent “no”

Montrose County – 9,969 votes; 52 percent “no”

Ouray County – 1,704 votes, 51 percent “no”

Pitkin County, 5,464 votes; 53 percent “yes”

Rio Blanco County – 1,427 votes; 62 percent “no”

Routt County – 4,657 votes; 60 percent “no”

Saguache County – 37 votes; 62 percent “no”

Summit County – 6,491 votes; 54 percent “no”

66,946 “no” 53,745 “yes”


Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.com

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