Mayor and City Council Members in Lone Tree take on Kim Monson
(LONE TREE, CO)–In a local newspaper hitting resident's driveways this afternoon, fellow Lone Tree City Council members and the Mayor complain Kim Monson doesn't vote in agreement with them enough. The Lone Tree Voice claims that Councilwoman Monson, "often votes in opposition to her fellow council members." In reality, since becoming a Council member in 2012, Monson has cast a dissenting vote only about 15% of the time.
One of those “no” votes was cast on March 17th regarding the first of four Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA) for the the local funding portion of the Southeast Corridor Light Rail Extension Project, which will add three additional stops, including approximately 2.3 miles of additional trackage for $207 million.
Monson summarizes her dissent, saying "First, though I enjoy working collaboratively with the Mayor and the Council, I am not here to vote the way they want me to vote, but for what I believe to be in the best interest of the people I represent." Monson continues, "I voted 'no' on the IGA Light Rail Extension project for two reasons. First, because of the $92 million in federal grant money being sought and, second because I don't believe taxpayers in Lone Tree know what the actual price tag is for this project.”
Not everyone agrees with the reaction of the Mayor and the rest of the Council. Mark Hillman, former State Treasurer and Senate Majority Leader, vouches for Monson's reasonable position. Hillman states, "Kim Monson is a person of principle who thinks outside the box. Her courage to take a stand contrary to the majority when necessary should be considered an asset. In my experience, I've often learned a great deal from and grown to respect people with whom I've disagreed. Kim's dedication to her community is laudable."
As the Council was deliberating on the project, Monson, with a background as an investment broker with Boettcher and Company, requested data related to the current use of Light Rail in order to analyze the return on investment for taxpayers. What she received were numbers quoted from a 2011 Customer Service Survey, not the accurate and timely data needed to make a good investment decision.
Based on her requests, RTD reported the price of a ticket only covers 22% of operating costs. Monson has since been telling citizens–who have been alarmed by the data–that the real cost of a $10.00 round-trip from Lone Tree to downtown is about $45. Monson asserts, "In 2003 Lone Tree residents voted in support of the Light Rail without being fully informed about the true costs. I support the taxpayers right to pay for public transportation, still it is the responsibility of elected officials to keep those taxpayers fully informed so they truly understand what they are voting for."
Several years ago, the City of Lone tree applied through RTD for $92 million in federal grant money and this year the Extension was named as one of the Regional Transportation District’s FasTracks projects and is included in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget to be voted on by Congress later this year. While the federal grant is pending, the first of four IGA's are underway for the Extension.
Monson recalls her earlier vote in favor of seeking the federal grant, stating "As a new Councilwoman, I voted in favor of applying for the FasTracks federal grant. I now realize it is not in the best interest of citizens from around the country to fund Light Rail in my city through their federal tax dollars. It is not fair to pass along more debt from federal deficit spending to our children and grandchildren, hindering their freedom to realize their own hopes and dreams. At some point we have to say 'no' to federal spending on projects that have no constitutional mandate to be funded." Monson continues.
Prior to knowing whether the federal grant money will be awarded, receipt of the grant money has already been factored into the project, which will cost approximately $207 million. The City of Lone Tree, along with its partners agrees to contribute a combination of real property interests, in-kind services and cash.