For the second time this year, Bayfield voters have rejected a town sales tax increase to pay for street-related projects. It lost by 60 votes.
The Tuesday night tally showed 448 votes for the increase and 508 votes against the proposal to raise the sales tax rate from the current 2 percent up to 3 percent.
At the April 1 town election, the proposal lost by nine votes, 75 no to 66 yes. The town board opted to try again in the fall.
Town Manager Chris La May commented, "We're a little deflated that it didn't pass. In my opinion, we are kind of kicking the can down the road. The problem doesn't go away."
He continued, "At this point, we will re-evaluate our options. The town will always strive to maintain the roads the best we can with the available resources. But at some point, there will probably be a reckoning, to reduce other services or raise fees. We'll have to determine whether we want to move forward on our maintenance backlog (around $800,000 planned in 2015 to get caught up), but if we don't, the costs will just get higher."
Back in September, La May told trustees that street maintenance costs spike around every 10 years, because major resurfacing projects have a 10-year life span. Bayfield Parkway got a $1.2 million mill and overlay in 2011, putting the next expected cost spike in 2021. The money won't be there without a new revenue source, La May said.
He proposed to start transferring $200,000 from the capital improvements budget to street maintenance in 2021, but he said that without new revenue, there will still be an annual street maintenance deficit of $200,000 to $2 million.
The town maintains 17.39 miles of roads.
The work in 2011 was paid out of $6.8 million that Colorado Department of Transportation gave the town to take over the parkway, previously Highway 160B. By the end of next year, with the cost of replacing the two green 1930s-vintage bridges on the parkway, La May estimates that around $1.3 million will be left from the CDOT money.
At the Oct. 21 board meeting, La May presented a storm water drainage plan listing $1.7 million in costs. He said that too would come out of the additional sales tax money if voters approved the increase, which was expected to bring in around $260,000 a year.