Grand Junction City Council Approves .25% Sales Tax Ballot Question Unanimously
At a Grand Junction City Council meeting, City Council agreed to move forward with inserting a question on the ballot in April of 2017. The decision to include the question, which, if approved by GJ voters, would include construction of a downtown event center along with improvements and upgrades to the Two Rivers Convention Center, was unanimous. The project would increase the sales tax in the county by .25% as a means of generating revenue for the project.
The project has been the center of discussion for years in the Grand Junction Community. There have been at least two credible feasibility studies conducted (the most recent was completed in 2015). Downtown's Grand Junction Event Center project will include not only improvements to the Two Rivers Convention Center but also the construction of a brand new 5,000+ seal arena. The new Event Center will attract the regional market because it will allow for events such as minor league sports teams, large concerts, and other such events not currently possible in Grand Junction. This project would benefit several of the local industries, such as recreation, tourism, convention, lodging, shopping, restaurant, and entertainment industries.
Recent studies show that Grand Junction’s City government revenue is significantly funded by sales tax, primarily paid by non-city residents. The amount of sales tax funding the city government actually paid by local residents is estimated to be no more than 22% of total revenue.
“This is an exciting prospect for the City to be able to regain some of our regional presence as well as to bring a new economic engine to our community. It is estimated that an additional 200-240 new jobs will be created directly related to the Center and even more indirectly, and that is something that cannot be overlooked. We have to be creative in looking at ways of igniting our economy, and this is just one possibility. I am hopeful that voters will support this as something our community needs right now and into the future.” - Mayor Phyllis Norris
If the project is approved, the tax increase would begin July 1 of 2017. The Grand Junction Event Center is estimated to generate around $4 million dollars annually. The exact revenue is contingent upon growth in the retail sales activity in town. The cost of the project will not exceed $65 millions with a margin for premium or discount. The effective interest rate of the project will not exceed 5%, and the total repayment cost would not exceed $134 million over 30 years.
Estimations show that the .25% increase in sales tax will be sufficient to cover not only the debt but also any potential net operating costs. As of January 2017, the current sales tax rate in Grand Junction is 2.75%, which is a little over 3% lower than average sales tax rates in neighboring Western Slope towns and cities.