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Poll results signal death of road-tax idea

By: Monte Whaley Denver Post
January 16, 2014 Updated: January 16, 2014 at 9:30 pm
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A statewide transportation sales tax that would have raised $600 million a year for road repairs and transit projects won't be placed before Colorado voters this year.

Polling showed little appetite for the proposed 0.7 percent sales tax collected over 10 years, backers said.

"Voters said they are not ready for this, this year," Lone Tree Mayor Jim Gunning said. "It's just not going to happen this year."

The proposed ballot issue, MPACT64, was backed by Progressive 15, Action 22 and Club 20 and Metro Mayors Caucus, which Gunning chairs.

MPACT64 proponents began informally asking local city councils and county commissioners about the initiative last year.

Reaction from elected officials was mixed and statewide polling - conducted last week by a private firm - bore that out, Gunning said.

On the flip side, those responding to the poll didn't see a 0.7 tax as too much.

"They said this is not a big tax for me, but they didn't want to do it this year," Gunning said.

The Regional Transportation District has been searching for new funding to finish portions of the metrowide FasTracks project.

The proposed tax would have generated $1.7 billion over 15 years for RTD. That would have helped complete the Northwest Rail project as well as arterial bus routes in the northwest suburbs.

"It's very disappointing that transportation didn't do well," in the poll, RTD chairman Chuck Sisk said.

Gunning wouldn't reveal the exact results of the poll, but said it provided valuable insights.

The expansion of transit options statewide polled well, as did the idea that transportation dollars need to be spread throughout the state, he said.

"It shows we are moving in the right direction," Gunning said. "We've only begun the conversation."

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