Ballots Sent Out for Heated Rifle Recreation Center Debate
KREX News Room
RIFLE, Colo.- Ballots are being mailed out to Rifle residents this week to decide whether a $21 million recreation center should be built.
The project would be paid for by a .74 percent increase in Rifle's sales tax, equivalent to 74 cents for every $100 purchased.
Last November, the town's sales tax increased to 8.15 percent to help fund a new water treatment plant.
If voters decide to go through with this project, the city's sales tax would rise to 8.89 percent, with the sales tax increase remaining in place for as long as 30 years.
Those opposed to the project feel the tax hike could negatively impact local businesses.
"With the increase to 8.89 percent, that causes a burden on the businesses in town," said Becky Mall, Member of the Rifle No More Taxes Group. "People will want to go elsewhere to get a lower tax."
City leaders plan to pay for the project up front with a 30 year bond.
The Committee for the Rifle Recreation & Community Center says interest rates for municipal bonds are at historic lows, but those opposed to the bill say the added interest could result in total payments over $40 million.
To limit the amount of interest the city pays, developers hope to receive a number of grants and private donations, but won't receive any commitments until the vote is finished.
"The bottom line with any sort of grant or even donation is that these organizations and individuals are not willing to get on board until there's actually a project in the works," said Angela Strode, Member of the Committee for the Rifle Recreation and Community Center.
The extra funds would be used to pay off the bonds sooner, and could potentially reduce the number of years residents would have to pay the additional tax.
Those in support of the project hope the center will have a positive economic impact to the community, similar to what happened when Fruita built their facility a few years ago.
"They built in 2010 and they've seen massive increases in sales tax revenues every year since then, even in the middle of a recession," said Strode. "We really believe the economy in Rifle will also improve."
Rifle citizens have until September 10th to turn in their ballots.