As expected, the second half of the year is ramping up rather quickly and the Chamber staff and board are hard at work. This year seems to be busier than normal with it being an election year and all the ballot measures, the Grand Valley Drainage District (GVDD) lawsuit and our first ever Total Resource Campaign (TRC). I thought I should take this opportunity to share with everyone some of the highlights.
With this being an election year there may be upward of 17 ballot issues that will be put to vote and your Chamber has taken positions on those that will have the greatest impact to business. Below I highlight just two of the many that have been thoroughly reviewed:
Amendment 69 (Colorado State Health Care System Initiative AKA ColoradoCare) – OPPOSED. This would create a new health care payment system for all individuals in Colorado and raise state taxes between $25 and $28 Billion dollars annually. This money would come from a new payroll tax and a 10% income tax on small business owners and retirees who report more than social security income on their tax returns.
Amendment 96 (Amendment to the Colorado constitution making it more difficult to amend the Colorado constitution) – SUPPORTED. If passed, this amendment would require any petition for a citizen initiated constitutional amendment be required to have at least two percent of the registered electors who reside in each state senate district in order to be placed on the ballot. In addition, at least 55% of the votes cast are needed in order to pass a new constitutional amendment.
Earlier this year your Chamber along with Mesa County entered into litigation against the Grand Valley Drainage District. Although we are disappointed we lost the injunction that would have stopped the GVDD from collecting monies, the lawsuit to determine about whether the fee is an impermissible tax is still pending. As I was reminded, the injunction is not part of the overarching lawsuit and does not determine the outcome of the lawsuit. Although the GVDD “fee” does not have a significant impact on homeowners it does have a more significant impact on business. Some businesses are seeing fees upward of $10,000. I think it is noteworthy to mention that the Chamber had received more support for the litigation than any other issue in recent history and since the announcement on the injunction has continued to receive overwhelming support from our members.
The Chambers position has been and continues to be:
- The Chamber supports a valley-wide solution to addressing the area’s drainage problems, which of necessity involves governmental entities in addition to the Grand Valley Drainage District.
- The Chamber supports the development of thoughtful alternatives regarding new fees, taxes, and grants to meet the need.
The Chamber opposes the imposition of an impact fee for business expansions. The growth of businesses improves the economy, increases job opportunities and adds to the tax base.
- The Chamber supports an extended process of securing more information in a collaborative manner with all entities responsible for drainage and thoroughly exploring all funding models, the implementation of a sunset provision on the funding source, more transparency and accountability in the form of reports issued to taxpayers regarding how project priorities are identified, how funds are being spent, and how funds are leveraged with money from other sources—including grants.
I am also happy to report out that our Total Resource Campaign is starting to take shape. This new and exciting way for your Chamber to fundraise and have you, our members, have even greater direct input on the focus of the Chamber is underway. Besides the hard work of the Chamber staff to make this happen, we have a large number of volunteers. There are currently 14 organizations in our community that have volunteered staff and hours to make this a success. Currently the teams and volunteers are starting training and there will be a lot more to report out in the next few weeks so please “stay tuned”.
Although this column is already running a little long, I did want to touch on one more item. Although I was honored to be asked to be the Chairman of the Chamber, what has made me proud to help represent the Chamber, is a question that comes up in almost every meeting that I attend (and there are a bunch of them). It is a simple question but an important one to keep us focused, “Is this what is best for our community?” This repeated question reminds us of why we do what we do. As I have stated before, we do not always agree and there have been some “passionate” discussions but the goal is still the same, representing the business community and making this a better place for all to live. It is with this sentiment I would like to thank everyone (staff, board, volunteers and members) that helps make the Chamber what it is today.
Matthew Breman, Chairman
Click here to download full version of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce August 2016 Newsletter.