Glenwood Springs voters deny airport factory tax, debt issue

In a landslide, voters in Glenwood Springs rejected a proposed airport factory tax and a demand for debt.

With funding issues receiving less than 20% voter support – based on early Garfield County poll results – the future of Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport is now on hold without a clear path for funding a tunnel under the track, which has been proposed to link South Midland Avenue and 4 Mile Road to the South Bridge project.

Ballot Question 2A asked voters whether or not to increase Glenwood Springs property taxes by four factories for 20 years, which could have generated about $ 1.2 million per year to pay for the operating costs of airport, facility upgrades and the South Bridge tunnel.

On poll question 2B, voters were asked if the city should incur an $ 8 million debt to fund the South Bridge tunnel, new airport hangars, a new fixed base of operations (FBO) and upgrading the airport’s aging refueling facilities. The ability to take on debt would have allowed the city to borrow money based on expected revenue from factory royalties.

If the ballots were approved by voters, about $ 5.5 million raised through taxes and bonds could have been used to fund the runway tunnel, and about $ 7 million was earmarked for airport improvements, such as a new FBO, hangars, fuel yard, perimeter fence, taxiway lighting and runway sealant every five years for the next 20 years.

The questions were put to a vote by a 4-3 council vote on September 2 – a day ahead of the Garfield County deadline for adding voting questions.

The council’s approach to adding the questions to the ballot was condemned by several members of the city’s airports commission, who said they had not been consulted on how to fund the airport’s needs and potential improvement projects.

A working session of the city council is scheduled with the airport commission on Thursday before the regular council meeting.

“The results speak for themselves, there was no support for it,” said Dave Merritt, member of the Airports Commission. “Other tax issues at Garfield, such as the School District and Colorado River Fire & Rescue measures, were passed. They made a very good case for these questions. They had support. This is not the case.

Merritt said he thought it was unfortunate that city council voted to put the questions on the ballot, and the challenges the commission and council are currently facing are funding to address the safety concerns of the people. airports and make improvements to facilities.

“We also need to find funding for South Bridge,” Merritt said. “But the tunnel under the airport is only a small part of that.”

Based on conversations Merritt had with people before election night, he said the few voters who supported the measure might have been confused about the polling questions.

Pro Mayor Tem Charlie Willman and Tony Hershey opposed ballot questions from the get-go.

“It was rushed and the people of Glenwood and the airport have to apologize,” Hershey said. “So I will apologize. “

Willman said the response from voters was not surprising.

“I did not support putting this on the ballot,” he said. “We need to sit down with the airport board and users and figure out how to deal with important safety issues using the airport’s revenue streams and revenue opportunities.”

The airport’s current runway configuration could be at risk if no other funding options are discovered for the South Bridge tunnel, Willman said, adding that the council intends to continue to examine available funding options. .

Mayor Jonathan Godes, who offered to add the questions to the ballot, declined to comment on the election results.

Journalist Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at [email protected]

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