Rec District amends tax proposal

A concept image of the possible new rec center.

The Montrose Recreation District will seek a 0.3 percent sales tax on the April ballot to support construction of a community recreation center, Executive Director Ken Sherbenou announced Thursday. 

The district had anticipated a 0.2 sales tax initiative, but an increase was warranted by market fluctuation. 

Following Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Friends of the Montrose Community Recreation Center citizen and campaign group, the district Thursday issued a release with updated information on the tax initiative. 

“There basically have been pretty big changes in the municipal bond market that basically caused increased costs. So we’re in need of a 0.3 percent sale tax, compared with what we thought we needed, which was a 0.2 percent sales tax, to make the project happen,” Sherbenou said in a subsequent interview. 

The bond company the district has worked with discovered increasing interest rates had not been factored into the financing plan; the district board voted last Friday to update its tax proposal to meet the annual lease purchase payments on the new recreation center. 

Sherbenou stressed the increase to the tax proposal is a small one, and is still less than a third of what many of Montrose’s neighboring communities have approved in their community recreation center efforts. 

“It’s something that we didn’t want to do, but I think we had to do to be responsible stewards of public resources,” Sherbenou said. 

Sherbenou and the board have emphasized the importance of creating a fiscally conservative plan that would meet the interests of the community. The 0.3 sales tax, if approved, would supplement annual contributions from the district of $800,000 per year, as well an ambitious grant and fundraising strategy, to meet the cost of the new center. 

“One of the biggest driving influences in this plan, in addition to meeting the currently unmet need, has been to try to do this in a fiscally responsible way,” Sherbenou said. “We really worked hard to only ask for that which we needed.” 

The master plan for the community recreation center has not been changed, Sherbenou said. 

District board member Barbara Bynum said the plan is still the best fit for Montrose. 

“It’s the right plan, it’s the right time to do it,” she said. “This recreation center will meet the needs of our community, and it will do it in a financially conservative way.”

The change in the tax proposal was necessary to make sure the financial plan was sound, Bynum said, and the board does not expect the change to greatly affect voters’ decisions. 

“It’s still such a small percentage, it’s such a small sales tax,” Bynum said. “We talked a lot as a board, but the difference ... we don’t think it will be a huge factor for voters.”

Board member Jason Ullman, who also serves on the campaign group, said the group hopes to have economic impact data to show voters during its upcoming education efforts. The new recreation center has the potential to return more tax money than Montrose residents will have to put it, Ullman said. 

“That’s a key thing is to show the community that this additional money they’re spending is a good investment — it will bring back more than what they’re spending,” Ullman said. 

The district’s plan for a ballot initiative is on the Montrose City Council’s agenda for the Tuesday, Jan. 21 meeting. Instead of garnering citizen votes to take the issue to the election, the district will ask the council to pass a resolution placing the issue on the ballot. If that effort is successful, the residents of Montrose will have final say on the 0.3 percent sales tax. 

“I don’t think it’s going to be a significant change in terms of pitching it to the community,” Ullman said regarding the 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent change. “ It’s still a very small tax and it’s still much, much smaller than what other communities have passed to realize a recreation center in their communities.”

More information from the campaign committee is available at www.montrosecrc.org, and questions can be emailed to info@montrosecrc.org.

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