Dennis Anderson

Montrose Daily Press/Delta County Independent Publisher Dennis Anderson

Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall has taken to the talk circuit to present his argument for a. 58-percent sales tax increase. He needs more officers and a better facility. As Hall usually is, he’s pretty straight forward about the needs of his departments.

The stats have been talked about ad nauseum, and as Mark Twain once said, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”

The facts are, and I don’t even need to see the numbers to back them up, crime is up in our community. It’s up in Montrose and in Delta. I spoke with Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor last week, and his numbers line up with Hall’s, as do the City of Delta’s. It’s not just a Montrose problem.

I read and hear a lot about what could have been done over the past few years spending wise by the City of Montrose decision makers. Why so many bike paths or fancy city signs? We could have been adding officers as crime increased. That money is gone, and if you’re not happy with the way the city financing has been handled, then, well, there are always elections to change the city council. Or you could put your hat in the ring and run.

What we’re talking about here is a tax that would be earmarked for public safety. This isn’t about whether you like the way City Manager Bill Bell has handled our finances. This is a simple question of need and purpose.

How about a conspiracy theory? The city manager and city council conspired to spend funds in other areas so that some day they would present to the voters a tax increase earmarked for cops so that the voters would be duped into passing the initiative. Giving Bill Bell more spending money. It seems far fetched, but I’ll be your huckleberry.

I recently moved back to the area from Alaska, which is really the wild west of crime and lack of public safety resources. Property tax is fairly high, but there isn’t much investment toward public safety. The 12-hour and four-person shifts that Hall speaks of are very similar for the Alaska state troopers in the Mat-Su Valley, with one exception. These troopers cover a territory that is similar in size to West Virginia and has a population of over 100,000.

I would imagine the issues are the same in communities across the country. Wouldn’t it be great if we could live in a Western flick and just have a Wyatt Earp-type law enforcement post a sign at the edge of town that said, “No Guns, Drugs or any other shenanigans allowed!”

I don’t know if Chief Hall can grow that kind of mustache. On second thought, gun duels on Main Street probably aren’t the best solution.

Hall and his team have a tough task. Reactive policing is less effective than proactive policing. While they are probably not running from call to call every minute of the day, it appears that this is the case for the majority of their time.

As school shootings across the country have increased over the years, citizens are demanding safer schools. That means increase police presence. That doesn’t come without cost.

In other words, the pressure is on. What do you want to do about it?

Don’t go confusing me for some other body who’s going to try and convince you how to vote on 2A. I’m proud of Managing Editor Justin Tubbs for owning his opinion for a yes vote in his column this past Friday, but I like to think that if you’re of voting age you don’t need me to tell you how to vote.

What I will tell you is it comes down to the following:

•Is the current revenue stream large enough to support funding more police officers, a building – fact is the old library is too small- and other resources?

•Is it important to you that there be a revenue stream that would be solely for the purpose of funding the increased need? I haven’t heard anyone say that Chief Blaine Hall is off base with his stated needs.

•Do you trust that the current and future city councils will not reduce the current funding the MPD receives as new revenues come in from the tax? It is part of the proposed ordinance that no less than 43 percent of all general operational expenses will continue to fund public safety, but you never know what the future holds.

What it doesn’t come down to is the following:

•I don’t like Bill Bell. (Let’s be mature and rational about this.)

•I don’t know why the city owns a golf course. (That’s a separate issue and has nothing to do with this.)

•We have too many bike paths, fancy signs.

•We don’t need a visitor center or a recreation center. (Well they’re not going to be torn down. Would the city of Montrose have the revenue it has without these attractions?)

After all of the debate and comments from both sides of the issue we should be grateful for one thing. The decision is in the hands of the voters of Montrose. Whatever the outcome is, it was the will of the people that won out.

That is a beautiful stubborn fact.

Dennis Anderson is group publisher for Wick Communications, Alaska and Colorado. He can be reached via email at dennis.anderson@frontiersman.com

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