Positive amenity

Dear Editor:

The time is right in 2014 to build a public recreation center in Pagosa because affordability will never be better due to current low bond interest rates.

The Town Council recognized the opportunity presented by these low interest rates to pursue creation of a community recreation center that would be available to everyone, locals and visitors alike. The idea for a rec center actually originated from a community survey asking both Town and County residents what was most needed in terms of park and recreation amenities. The top answer was preservation of open space (nearly 2/3 of the county is currently protected public land), followed closely by a community recreation center. The people who live here clearly said they want this for themselves and their families. A big bonus is that tourists will also be able to use it.

The Town Council has done their homework in terms of researching the costs and has shown that this is a financially responsible project (for details see www.pagosareccenter.com). A 1-penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase would both build the rec center and pay for the ongoing operations and maintenance costs for the 20 years of the bond plus additional years beyond that from a reserve fund built into the financing plan. These numbers are all based on real sales tax data, including data from the 2008 economic downturn era, and do not assume any input from Wal-Mart. Addition of a Pagosa Wal-Mart would only produce higher sales tax revenues than projected. Our community can afford this.

Some may say that everyone is being asked to pay a tax for a rec center that they may or may not use. The same could be said of libraries, public schools, parks and building a hospital. The upcoming April 8 ballot issue is for a 1 percent increase in sales tax; that’s 1 penny on the dollar. Our current sales tax rate is 6.9 percent, so the increase would bring us to 7.9 percent, the same as Durango. Did you realize that when you go to Durango to shop and go to a restaurant, you are paying 7.9 percent sales tax? That’s because Durango voted to increase their sales tax back in 1999 so they could build a rec center. So, your purchases in Durango are helping to pay for their rec center. That’s how community recreation centers are typically built — through a revenue bond funded by sales tax.

This is an opportunity to create a positive amenity for all Pagosa-area residents and tourists alike for a very small per-person price. Vote yes for a Pagosa community recreation center. It’s worth every penny.

Gwen Taylor

This story was posted on February 13, 2014.