The Pueblo West View

Letter: Investment not tax

When the votes are counted, the position getting the most votes wins.

That’s democracy.

And, that is exactly what the sales tax initiative is all about. It is up to us, the people, to weigh the pros and cons and vote accordingly.

Bill Clemens has presented the reasons why he thinks we should not approve the initiative. I herewith respectfully offer why we should.

For more than a decade the number one complaint from local residents is the lamentable condition of our roads.

There are more than 403 miles of these, of which 218 are paved or chip sealed.

The rest are gravel.

All but 57 miles are county accepted roads.

In 2002, Pueblo County and Pueblo West entered into an agreement whereby Pueblo West would maintain the roads in exchange for the revenues generated through the State’s HUTF (gas tax).

The HUTF generates around $1.2 Million annually.

However, after negotiations lasting most of last year, the County again is providing labor and equipment for various projects such as pothole repairs, crack sealing, chip sealing, and road grading on an annual basis.

An estimate for the value for these county activities is around $250,000 per year.

Given the somewhat bleak financial situation of the county, it is unlikely that this support will increase anytime soon.

Meanwhile, too many of our most heavily traveled roads have either failed or are in desperate need of repair to keep them from failing.

To repair a road that has failed costs approximately 7 to 10 times more than preventative maintenance.

Therefore, it seems a prudent investment to repair roads prior to failing.

The monies from the proposed sales tax would help considerably in doing just that.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that Pueblo West residents would have plenty of outside assistance in generating revenue to fix our roads.

According to some local businesses, a substantial part of Pueblo West retail sales are from Walsenburg, Canon City, Florence, and other nearby communities that come to Pueblo West to shop.

Also, Lake Pueblo State Park is host to more than 1.5 million visitors annually, many of whom travel through Pueblo West and patronize our businesses.

The sales tax would automatically expire after six years.

It can only be extended if voters approve. Revenues from the sales tax, by law, are required to be used exclusively for road maintenance.

These revenues would supplement normally budgeted funds.

Safety, convenience, quality of life, and economic growth depend on acceptable infrastructure.

Rather than looking at this initiative as a tax, perhaps we should look at it as a much needed investment in our community.

Jerry Martin

Pueblo West

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