Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the City asking for a 0.5% sales tax increase for streets?

The City of Gunnison streets are on the edge of deteriorating rapidly. Yes, we are fortunate that streets are serviceable and adequate for general needs today; however, many of them are quickly cracking and breaking down quickly. Since 2018, the City has worked with Infrastructure Management Services (IMS) to conduct a “pavement condition assessment” for each road. Streets are ranked on a scale from 0 (worst) to 100 (best), called a “Pavement Condition Index” (PCI). Within the next 5 years the majority of City streets will drop below a PCI rating of 60. Streets requiring reconstruction will increase from 12% to 24-27% within 5 years. Once streets are in “poor” or “very poor” condition, they will cost 8 times as much as today’s costs to repair.
Pavement Preservation Chart

The City of Gunnison also experiences inflation. While the City has seen small a percentage increase in City sales tax collected over the last couple of years (4.4% on average), this percentage increase is not enough to keep pace with the increasing cost of materials, labor, and supplies, which have increased up to 800%.

What is the City of Gunnison's current sales tax rate?

The overall current sales tax rate is 8.9%; however, only 4% goes to the General Fund. 2.9% goes to the State of Colorado, 1.0% goes to Gunnison County, and 1.0% goes to the Rural Transportation District. 

If this initiative were to pass, the City sales tax would increase to 4.5% with the new 0.5% going into a dedicated Streets Improvement Fund. The additional 0.5% would generate an estimated ~$1.4 million dollars annually.  This amount would be in addition to the $1.1 million dollars the City already allocates annually for streets, for a total of approximately $2.5M. With a $100.00 purchase on groceries, $.50 would go toward streets. Both residents and visitors would contribute to funding the streets.

What does the City currently spend the streets budget of $1.1M on?

Streets funding is strategically spent on an array of projects, including material crushing, paint striping, signs, gravel/asphalt patching, concrete, and slurry and crack sealing.  This work does not fix underlying structural issues.

Evidence of street deterioration. Georgia Avenue in 2012 and 2021.

Georgia Ave 2012

Georgia Ave 2021


What if the sales tax rate increase does not pass?

The City would consider returning it to the voters in 2023. The City would likely explore reducing certain important services or programming.  At the $1.1M funding level only major collector streets, which include designated emergency and school bus routes, could be maintained. These represent only 25% of Gunnison’s overall streets. Local streets would receive minimal, if any, maintenance. CDOT would continue to maintain Highways 135 and 50. 

Will the tax sunset?

No, streets require consistent maintenance so the tax will not sunset.

Why are alleys and sidewalks not included?

The 0.5% sales tax increase would not generate enough funding to also cover the costs of reconstructing alleys and creating sidewalks on an annual basis. Rather than asking for a greater sales tax increase, the City opted for removing alleys and sidewalks from the financial equation.

Why is the City choosing to fund streets through a sales tax increase rather than help address the issue of affordable housing?

This isn’t a matter of either/or – we need to maintain our streets and we need housing for our local workforce. The City is invested in working on both priorities.

Shouldn't the City being looking for ways to create safer streets, not nicer streets?

We are doing both. The City is currently working with CDOT, street safety experts, and Gunnison County to develop a Traffic Control Plan for Highway 50. The City is also developing a “Vision Zero” strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries on our City streets.

Why doesn't the City apply for state or federal grants to pay for street improvements?

The City applies for state and federal funds as they become available.  The use of grant funds are restricted by the grantor, and street funding often has a multi-modal or safety focus. Basic street maintenance is not eligible for grants dollars. The City has been proactive about applying for grants and has secured funds to help pay for community projects like renovations to IOOF Park and new housing infrastructure.

Why is the City using general fund money to pay for renovations to IOOF Park?

The majority of the funding for renovations to IOOF Park came from a CDOT grant program called Revitalizing Main Street. Local builders like ID Sculpture were commissioned to build the rock feature. Parks and Rec crews completed the landscaping, which was purchased out of grant funding. The Tourism and Prosperity Partnership paid for the new mural. 

IOOF Park improvements were made as part of the One Valley Prosperity Plan to increase the vibrancy of Main Street and increase visitation to downtown businesses.

Welcome to Gunnison

Gunnison is a small mountain community on the western slope of Colorado with a population of approximately 6,560 full time residents. The population increases annually with the influx of tourism and Western Colorado University students numbering an additional 2,500. The City of Gunnison is the county seat for Gunnison County. Gunnison has a rich history of ranching, agriculture, mining, tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities that bring many more people through the community.
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