Montrose County Shows Off New Sales Tax Purchases

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Last November, Montrose County residents approved two sales tax increases to help fund county public safety departments and the county road and bridge department. Monday, residents got a first hand look at how their tax dollars are being spent.

New tasers, new trucks, and new computers were just a handful of what Montrose residents got to see at the county's sales tax expo.

During the 2007 elections, Montrose residents approved both a one percent and three-quarters of a percent sales tax increase to fund programs that needed financial help.

"They needed quite an infusion of money," said Dwane Watford, a fifty year resident of Montrose. "They've been operating on bare bones for years."

That's just how the county road and bridge deparment describes its situation before the increase. Officials say they only had enough money to fill in potholes, and couldn't afford to improve exisiting roads and bridges or construct new ones.

"We absolutely were very frustrated as an agency," said Brian Wilson, a Montrose County Engineer. "We couldn't provide the services that the public was asking for."

Now with a fleet of new vehicles and several million dollars in the bank, officials say that will soon change.

"Instead of just filling potholes, we'll get to do some actual road reconstruction, put some of these roads back on the system where they're safe and have high mobility," said Wilson.

The Sheriff's Office says it was in a similar boat. The sheriff says because he didn't have the money to buy the latest technology, his deputies would spend more time in the office filling out paperwork than they would out in the field.

But with new cars and mobilie data computers among other things, he says his deputies will have more time to keep the public safe.

"This way, it's going to afford them the opportunity to be out in the communities, to be out in the outlying areas," said Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap. "They'll be visible, they'll be seen, and they'll be where they're needed."

County officials say it was important for them to show the public just how the 11 million dollars in revenue the increase has raised is being spent.

"`We promised that we would to certain things in terms of the sheriff's department and roads and bridges," said Montrose County Commisioner Bill Patterson. "We wanted to show that we are doing exactly what we said we would do."

Montrose residents say they're impressed with what they've seen.

"I'm certainly happy," said Watford. "It's very good."

Officals say they will run another expo for residents in the west end of the county. That will take place on April 2 at the Nucla Fire Hall.

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