It’s not uncommon for city civic leaders to feel that counties are sometimes unresponsive to their needs, just as rural county leaders in Colorado sometimes feel their population’s best interest takes a backseat to Front Range interest. State leaders in turn are constantly competing with other states for federal attention and dollars. Now the city of Montrose says it wants its fair share of a Montrose County public safety tax enacted by voters in November, 2007.
Montrose City Councilor Bob Nicholson has worked with City Attorney Stephen Alcorn on a resolution that outlines why Montrose is entitled to some of the funding generated by the county tax. The resolution was signed-off o by not only the entire City Council, but city management and staff as well.
Nicholson says the city has been unable to raise the salary of Police Department personnel and has trouble retaining officers because of the lack of competitive salaries. Part of the reason for this, says Nicholson, is that the city’s budget for law enforcement has been stretched thin by the surge in what the county charges the city for 911 Dispatch services.
Nicholson says that the city was billed $260-thousand in 2008 by the county for dispatch services. The cost for 911 Dispatch services to the city this year is projected to be $456-thousand. Nicholson acknowledges that the Sheriff’s department, which operates 911, has made various and necessary upgrades since the tax was passed.
Montrose feeds its General Fund primarily through the revenue gleaned from its 3-percent sales tax. The county has a 1.75-percent sales tax, 1-percent for Roads and Bridges, and three-quarter of a percent for Public Safety. It’s the Public Safety tax that Nicholson believes the city of Montrose is entitled to a portion of. Nicholson says the original Public Safety tax approved by voters calls for 70-percent of revenue to go to the Sheriff’s Office for public safety improvements; while 30-percent is designated to be allocated by the Montrose County Board of Commissioners for public safety purposes throughout the county.