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Publish Date: 10/13/2006

Pros, cons of transit tax debated


LONGMONT — A proposed tax designed to improve Boulder County’s public transportation and trails network is too muddled to be worthwhile, Libertarian Ralph Shnelvar argued Thursday during the Daily Times-Call election forum.

If approved by voters, the 0.2 percent sales tax would throw money at “goodies” like trail maintenance, expanded senior transit and advertising campaigns designed to boost ridership, he said.

“The only thing they seem to have left out was new leash laws for prairie dogs,” Shnelvar cracked as he pleaded with the audience to reject the ballot issue.

Shnelvar called it redundant in light of the $4.7 billion FasTracks tax passed by Denver-area voters in 2004.

“At what point is this infinite spiral of more and more taxes going to stop?” Shnelvar asked. “When will you vote to make Boulder County just a little more affordable?”

The transit and trails tax would raise at least $107.8 million between 2007 and 2020 to increase bus service and create new bus routes, including a line along Colo. Highway 119 from Longmont to Del Camino. About 20 percent of the money would fund trail construction and maintenance. After 2020, county consumers would pay a permanent 0.05 percent sales tax to maintain new trails and transit promotion programs created by the tax.

The trails and bus service will be vital as the county’s aging baby boomer population begins to surrender driver’s licenses and use other forms of transportation, county Commissioner Tom Mayer said, arguing in favor of the measure.

“It’s your choice,” Mayer said. “We can clean up the air. We can give more mobility options. We can complete the trails.”

 
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