Local man wants voters to say 'No' to public safety tax

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Elections are coming up and fast, and a big measure that Mesa County voters will decide on is ballot measure 1A, also known as the public safety tax.

If approved by voters this November, it'll increase sales tax by .37 percent in Mesa County to help fund the district attorney's and Mesa County Sheriff's offices.

But one Mesa County resident says the ballot itself has some flaws.

"It does not specifically say where it'll be going or be allocated to. There is no guarantee it will be allocated to public safety," said Michael Day.

District Attorney Dan Rubinstein and Sheriff Matt Lewis said they wrote this ballot measure together, and guarantee the funding will be transparent.

"It can be used for prosecution and investigation, but the language could not make it more clear that this money can only be used for public safety purposes," said Rubinstein.

Rubinstein also said it can't be changed down the line.

"There is no possibility that the commissioners in the future could lawfully change where this money goes," said Rubinstein.

Day said he doesn't think an increase in county sales tax is needed because municipalities, like Grand Junction, should help fund the DA's office. Currently, no city or town in Mesa County is set up that way.

"Considering that 55 percent of the serious crime that burdens the DA's office comes from the city of Grand Junction by itself, the city needs to take all crime seriously and they need to focus funds to the DA's office so they can support the ability to take all crime seriously and the DA's office ability to prosecute or handle all crime seriously," said Day.

Bottom line, without a clear direction, it's not up to taxpayers to foot the bill.

"It certainly shouldn't be the responsibility of the entire community or those who might want to come and visit us and spend their money here," said Day.

Rubinstein said that was intentional.

"We want the consumers of the services to pay for those services themselves."

He uses Country Jam as an example.

He said the area gets thousands of visitors, and they end up using the public safety services. The event is staffed by the sheriff's office, and they set two days aside in the courts just for Country Jam tickets.

So if they increased a property tax, those people using the services wouldn't be the ones paying for them.

If it passes, Day also said the DA's office will get 60 full-time employees. Other districts that are similar in size have anywhere from 69 to 70 employees.

The DA said he's confident he can move cases along in a timely manner with the 60 full-time employees.

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