Montrose County Clerk and Recorder Tressa Guynes

Montrose County Clerk and Recorder Tressa Guynes presents the first round of county-level election results Tuesday night at the historic Montrose County Courthouse. Although county voters rejected Prop DD, the measure to tax sports betting to help pay for Colorado Water Plan implementation passed statewide. 

After a night of fluctuating votes that raised, lowered, then raised again Proposition DD’s prospects, the measure to allow casino sports betting and impose a 10-percent tax on the net proceeds passed.

Although it went down in Montrose County, statewide, voters lifted Prop DD to victory; 712,405 yes, to 692,377 no, according to unofficial results from the Colorado Secretary of State.

The revenue from taxing sports betting, estimated at about $30 million, is to be used to implement the Colorado Water Plan — a drop in the bucket, so to speak, of the billions implementation is expected to cost over the next few decades.

The Colorado River District, which supported Prop DD, viewed it as help with a “downpayment” for plan implementation. The water plan is a longer range strategy to balance water supply against growing needs; its provisions include more infrastructure for water storage, as well as conservation methods.

State Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, who represents House District 58, and who also represents Montrose County on the river district, left the county courthouse Tuesday night assuming DD was going down in defeat; after an initially favorable showing, the “no” votes began to dominate. But, by early Wednesday, the final unofficial results showed a win.

“We kind of raised the profile of water, but it had to come on gambling. I think people voted against gambling, rather than against water,” Catlin said.

“Now it’s up to the state of Colorado, and me — all of us in the state that have anything to do with this. Now is the time for a good project to be picked up in rural Colorado.”

Although to Catlin, urban areas seemed to support DD more than did voters in rural areas, a need for such projects is on the Western Slope and other non-metro areas, he said, and it’s time for the state to “square up” by offering feasible projects that will assure water plan success.

“It certainly is not going to fix all issues Colorado has with water, but it does prime the pump. That doesn’t mean the Legislature can now ignore it. Now is the time we really take it on in the state,” Catlin said.

He acknowledged the money DD is supposed to raise will not come close to fully funding the water plan.

“At least now we’ve got some dollars. We can start at least figuring out, ‘this is how the water plan would work,’” Catlin said.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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