The proposed property tax that would boost the coffers of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority by $9.5 million annually appeared headed toward a narrow approval, according to unofficial results from Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle counties.
As of 10 p.m., the Colorado Secretary of State reported that ballot issue 7A had 8,569 yes votes compared to 8,061 against the measure.
RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship was cautiously optimistic but noted that scores of ballots in Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle counties had yet to be counted — and the tallies were extremely close in all of the jurisdictions.
The last numbers available before deadline showed 7A leading by 52 to 48 percent in Garfield and Pitkin, while Eagle County was 51 to 49 percent.
Without knowing how many outstanding ballots that needed to be counted, “we’re kind of in a vacuum of information,” Blankenship said. “I’m very encouraged so far that we have a small margin in favor. Hopefully that margin will continue as the evening progresses and the final tally is reached.”
If approved, the tax would help the transit agency in key areas, including the replacement of buses with more environmentally friendly vehicles; increasing evening, night and weekend service during the winter and summer seasons and on weekdays in the off-season; improving links to local trail systems and assisting the creation of new trails; and increasing safety and mobility via pedestrian crossings, bike sharing, improved bus stations and additional park-and-ride lots.
The property tax would generate an estimated $9.5 million annually. At the proposed 2.65-mill rate, it would cost the owner of a home valued at $500,000 about $81 per year. Currently, RFTA receives its funds through local sales taxes, rider fares, service contracts and state and federal transportation grants.
Blankenship said such grants are not stable enough to depend upon and that operational funds need to come from dedicated sources.
“Those grants are kind of drying up,” he said Tuesday night. “They’re harder to come by and they’re unreliable.”