Cortez recreation center: Plans to ensure funding for popular facility are on the right track so far

Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 5:12 PM
Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Bryant Goodwin hangs from the uneven bars at the Stormys Gymnatics class in the Cortez Recreation Center.

The Cortez City Council and city staff have put a lot of effort into shaping the sales tax question which will continue financial support for the very popular Cortez Recreation Center.

After multiple conversations among council members, staff and with the public, voters will be asked to approve an amount necessary to cover the center’s revenue shortfall beginning in 2022. The 0.55 percent (5.5 cents on $10) which is covering both the bonding needed for the construction of the center and the shortfall in operating revenue will be reduced to 0.35 (3.5 cents on $10). Construction bonds, approved in 2001, will be retired in 2021.

The recreation center sales tax question will be on the city’s April 3 election ballot, which will also include filling four council seats.

The 0.35 percent sales tax question will not include a sunset, reflecting the unavoidable on-going costs of maintaining the recreation center and making any necessary improvements.

Municipal recreation centers do not break even, and uppermost in Cortez city leaders’ minds has been to continue to keep user fees as affordable as possible.

The city’s recreation center requires an overhaul of its heating and air condition system after almost 20 years, and parking lot repaving.

The city could have asked voters to continue the existing 5.5 cents on $10 sales tax and applied the revenue which now goes to the construction bonds to other recreational wants: walking and bike trails on the city’s perimeter, further city park improvements or even to partially support the promising path to the fairgrounds and on-to-Mancos project, which will roughly parallel U.S. 160.

Full recreation options pay many dividends, both in personal health and economic development. Americans are increasingly attracted to communities with a variety of recreational opportunities, both indoor and outdoor, and for all ages.

But city leaders were mindful of the need for disciplined spending and limited taxation.

This editorial is not an endorsement of the ballot question – a yes or no will come in this space closer to the election – but at this point we like the thinking, and the results, which have gone into the proposal which voters will see.

The Cortez Recreation Center has been popular since the day its doors opened. That resource should continue.