Local elections: There are many reasons to vote “Yes” on 2A and for a forward-thinking council

Thursday, March 15, 2018 2:57 PM
Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

The City of Cortez is asking its voters to do something unusual: renew an existing sales tax at a lower rate.

The current 0.55 percent sales tax sales for construction and operation of the municipal recreation center is set to expire Dec. 31, 2021, when construction bonds will be paid in full. The city is asking for an extension of that tax at a reduced rate of 0.35 percent or 3½ cents for every $10 spent. Every penny collected through this tax will be spent to subsidize operating expenses, user fees and capital projects for this facility alone. It’s a very good investment.

The recreation center is a valuable asset that makes Cortez a more attractive place to live. That is important when recruiting health care professionals, highly qualified teachers, entrepreneurs, retirees and anyone else considering locating here. It’s an affordable amenity in a town where many people are on tight budgets.

It’s also a positive component in the parks and recreation portfolio of the community. It doesn’t compete directly with local gyms and fitness centers because it’s designed to provide opportunities for recreation, not just working out. Besides exercise equipment, the center has a walking/running track, a lap pool, a lazy river for resistance walking, racquetball and basketball courts, a climbing wall and meeting rooms. It offers space for youth and adult sports competitions and has also served as the venue for large community events such as the 9Health Fair and Heart & Soul gatherings.

It has always been important to the city that the recreation center be affordable for citizens at all income levels. If Ballot Issue 2A is not approved, the cost to access the center will more than double for every user, potentially pricing some out the door. That’s contrary to the voters’ purpose in approving construction in the first place. The city isn’t asking for new money; it just wants to continue part of the support that taxpayers have willingly provided for many years.

Vote “yes” on 2A on the city mail-in ballot.

HHHAlso on the ballot are eight candidates vying for five seats on the Cortez City Council.

Two are incumbents. Jill Carlson and Orly Lucero both have done a good job, Carlson for one term and Lucero for three.

The crop of new candidates is strong. Among the newcomers, three – Mike Lavey, Lance McDaniel and Jonathan Walker have regularly attended council meetings and dedicated themselves to learning about the city’s issues and objectives. They also have a history of being involved in the community, as does Geof Byerly. All four men have stated a clear, well-considered vision for the future of Cortez.

Sue Betts has not attended council meetings since announcing her candidacy, but her career with the Cortez Police Department provides a solid background in the workings of the city and the issues facing the community. The answers she and Gary Noyes provided to The Journal, while not as well researched or fully fleshed out, displayed a commitment to the community.

This is an election in which voters probably cannot go too far wrong, but only five of the eight can be seated. With that in mind, we thank Lucero lavishly for his many years of service and hard work, and we applaud Betts and Noyes for their willingness to step up.

With a view to the future, and after reviewing answers to the paper’s questions and speaking with community leaders, The Journal’s editorial board endorses Byerly, Carlson, Lavey, McDaniel and Walker.

Towns of Dolores and Mancos candidate endorsements will publish on Tuesday.