Business groups back Grand Junction ballot measure

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Matthew Breman, a member the Western Colorado Business Alliance board, speaks at a news conference in favor of Measure 2A on the November election ballot in Grand Junction. The question asks voters for permission for the City of Grand Junction to incur up to $70 million in debt to fund transportation projects. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

A question on the November ballot asking voters permission to increase debt to fund transportation projects in Grand Junction is an important one for business groups supporting the measure.

Diane Schwenke

“It’s a business issue for us. But it’s also about building a community,” said Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Schwenke was among those who participated in a news conference and voiced their support for Measure 2A.

The measure is one of several that will appear on ballots.

Ballot Measure 4A asks voters to approve a $179.5 million bond to rebuild Grand Junction High School and make various repairs and increase safety at the three other Mesa County School District 51 high schools. Statewide measures ask voters to allow the state to keep tax revenues collected above limits imposed by the
so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) provision of the state constitutions as well as assess a 10 percent tax on casino sports betting to fund water projects.

The ballot also includes two incumbents running opposed for re-election to the Mesa County School District 51 board of education. Doug Levinson is unopposed in District A. Paul Pitton is unopposed in District B.

Measure 2A asks voters to authorize the City of Grand Junction to issue bonds and incur up to $70 million in debt to fund transportation projects. Repayment could cost up to $114 million.

No tax increases are involved, although the measure also asks voters to allow the city to keep tax revenues above limits imposed by the state constitution. Voters approved a TABOR override in 2007 to pay off the bonds issued to finance the Riverside Parkway. But those bonds should be paid off in 2022 or 2023.

Measure 2A lists the projects that would be financed by debt and includes work on sections of B 1/2, D 1/2, F 1/2 and G roads as well as 24, 24 1/2 and 26 1/2 roads. Projects also are planned for Horizon Drive, Patterson Road, the Redlands Parkway and River Road.

Schwenke said the chamber board voted to endorse Measure 2A as a way to address traffic and safety issues as well as improve the business climate and overall quality of life.

Financing the projects through bonding means the work could be completed sooner at what likely would be a lower cost and with favorable interest rates, she said.

Matthew Breman, a member of board of the Western Colorado Business Alliance, said that group also supports the measure. “2A is a business issue,” he said.

Vara Kusal, executive director of the Horizon Drive District, said the board overseeing the Grand Junction business improvement district also has endorsed Measure 2A.

Shawna Grieger, executive director of the Western Colorado Contractors Association based in Grand Junction, said the measure will help local construction contractors as well as put more people to work.