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Ballot issue 1A — a vote to protect forests, water, and working lands and guard against wildfire

While the margin wasn’t large, Chaffee County voters chose to pass 1A,  in the Nov. 6 general election, one of the few sales taxes on the ballot they were willing to approve. The conditional vote stands at 5,563 for 1A and 5052 against it.

The ballot, known as the conservation initiative, had extensive supporters focused on a simple premise: that the question isn’t whether the county can afford the tax increase, but whether the county’s abundant natural assets are worth protecting.

“Now the work begins,” said Chaffee Commissioner Greg Felt, who was deeply involved in the process that led up to the ballot question. He spent election night at the Chaffee County Clerk’s Office monitoring results and did not leave until he knew 1A had passed. “I feel a personal burden to bear this out – to show folks this is a good idea. That this will work.”

The coalition behind 1A was an impressive cross section of the county. “The dialogue that Chaffee County had was ground-breaking. I don’t know if there has ever been something that everybody from everywhere has all agreed upon,” said Cindy Williams, President of Central Colorado Conservancy and a key leader of the 1A effort. “It’s so exciting to see the community come together and support something something this – we had the economic development folks, the ranchers, the businesses, the conservationists, the recreation industry coming together.”

The ballot issue approved by county residents is projected to increase county taxes by $1,162,000 annually, with a levy of 0.25 percent sales tax (representing 2.5 cents on a $10 purchase) on county purchases.