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Montezuma County Commissioners Put Broadband Sales Tax on November Ballot

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Three questions, including one seeking a one-cent sales tax, will be on the November ballot in Montezuma County.

On Monday, the county commissioners voted unanimously to ask voters for the sales tax to expand high-speed internet services throughout the area. The decision came after a long and sometimes testy discussion with four members of the county Planning and Zoning Commission. P&Z argued a sales tax might be better utilized for general purposes, to help make up the gap left by sharply declining revenues from the county’s largest taxpayer, Kinder Morgan. Commission chair Larry Don Suckla noted that local entities, including the city of Cortez and the Montezuma Community Economic Development Association, are united in support for the project, and county IT director Jim McClain said momentum is high. The total cost for the broadband package, including construction, electronics and bonding, was estimated at $40 million. MCEDA’s economic development specialist, Chelsea Jones, called the idea of paying for internet with a sales tax “revolutionary”. The other two ballot questions would create an authority to manage the system and allow the county to opt out of SB 152, a state law that restricts local telecommunications development.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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