Rico residents on Nov. 5 voted down a ballot question seeking a significant property tax increase to fund the town’s first central sewer system.
The measure failed, with 100 voting against it and 66 voting in favor, or 60.2 % to 39.7 %, said Rico Town Manager Kari Distefano.
“I had hoped it would pass because it would have made downtown businesses more functional,” she said. “The idea was to stimulate economic growth, while increasing town revenues needed for town services and maintenance.”
The $4.2 million project for central sewer lines and wastewater-treatment plant would have been paid for by a $1 million grant and a $3 million low-interest loan to be paid back from increased property tax revenues over 20 years.
Distefano said opponents thought the mill levy would spur excessive development or the loan was too high.
The town now needs to explore options to raise revenues for funding town maintenance, especially a struggling street fund, she said.
One idea is to conduct a poll to determine what level of tax increase is palatable for residents in order to keep town services viable.
Rico voters did agree to a smaller tax increase required to join in the boundaries of the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation. By joining, the town agreed to a 0.75 mill levy increase and 0.25% sales tax.
The authority provides a year-round bus route from Rico to Telluride relied on by students and workers. The ballot measure passed with strong support, Distefano said.
As a result of joining SMART, Rico will now have a seat on the board, allowing for more say in Rico transportation services.
Also in the Rico election, Brandy Randall, Nicole Pieterse and Joe Dillsworth were elected to the Town Board.
In another ballot question, Rico agreed to opt out of SB152, a state law that restricts towns and counties from building telecommunication infrastructure.
In a Dolores County, incumbent Crystal Jarmon won the only contested race in the Dolores County School District board election. Jarmon attracted 448 votes to win the District C seat. Challenger Scott W. Snyder received 224 votes.