This November, City of Rifle voters will be asked to approve a .45% sales tax increase. Revenues from this additional tax will be dedicated to the Street Improvement Fund (SIF) which is used exclusively for constructing, maintaining and improving streets in Rifle. Monies in this fund cannot be utilized for any other purpose.
The Street Improvement Fund was created in 2005 and funded by a .50% sales tax. This model was effective until 2012 when the fund began operating at a deficit of around $670K per calendar year. Over the past two decades, the labor market has become increasingly more competitive. Rises in the cost of fuel, equipment and materials have compounded the shortfall.
To address the immediate issue and continue repairs, Rifle City Council authorized the transfer of funds from the City General Fund (GF) to the SIF for 2023 only. General Fund support is not a sustainable long term solution. The GF is intended for other City services including the operation of the police department, administration, animal shelter and senior center.
The proposed tax is less than one half of one penny, but the results would be significantly beneficial. The current .50% equates to just over 1.4 million dollars annually. If that number were raised by the proposed .45%, the revenues would be closer to 2.66 million which would go directly to the Street Improvement Fund. The advantage of requesting a sales tax increase for a designated fund is that the cost would not fall solely on Rifle citizens. Our retail establishments are patronized by tourists, residents of neighboring areas and people simply driving through on I-70.
City Engineer Craig Spaulding has put together a comprehensive explanation of the City’s Streets Capital and Maintenance Plan. In his analysis, Spaulding notes, “[i]t is the City of Rifle’s priority to keep good roads good with routine maintenance and not let them fail. Currently 66% of roads in Rifle are in good condition. These are the roads that will be the highest priority. 22% of roads in Rifle are in fair condition and can be repaired with resurfacing. It is important that these roads are resurfaced before they become failed or poor. The remaining 13% of Rifle’s roads are failed or poor.”
The plan can be viewed in its entirety at https://www.rifleco.org/822/Streets-Capital-and-Maintenance-Plan.
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