CMC declines to vote on downtown tax
Colorado Mountain College has decided against voting on a downtown tax issue, saying it doesn’t consider it appropriate to help decide whether to impose a levy it is exempt from having to pay.However, the college considers the proposed five-mill property tax preferable to using tax increment financing to help boost downtown.Both the college and Garfield County have sued the city of Glenwood Springs over the proposed TIF downtown funding plan. The county and CMC have appealed a local judge’s ruling to dismiss the suit. They say the financing, which would devote revenues from an increasing property tax base to the city’s Downtown Development Authority, would deprive them of those revenues in the process.Both CMC and the county get to vote on the proposed property tax because they own property downtown. But as governments, they also are tax-exempt.CMC spokesman Joe Marquez said the college supports the DDA’s efforts. But it prefers funding methods other than TIF financing. The property tax is one better method, but the college isn’t officially endorsing it, Marquez said.The county decided to vote against the proposed measure, out of concern about the number of other fall ballot measures that could add to the burden on taxpayers, and the possibility that the TIF financing could be upheld in court and provide the DDA with another source of funding.The city of Glenwood Springs also gets a vote, but city officials are refusing to say which way it voted.Some other government agencies also were entitled to vote but did not register to do so. These include the U.S. Forest Service and Postal Service, and the Roaring Fork School District Re-1.Kristi Ponozzo, a spokeswoman for the Forest Service, said the agency wasn’t aware that it could vote, and probably wouldn’t have anyway, being tax-exempt.Re-1 Superintendent Fred Wall said the district also hadn’t realized that it was eligible. It’s possible it might have decided against voting for the same reason CMC did, he said.City Clerk Robin Unsworth said she sent notices to all voters she could determine to be eligible, including such entities as Re-1 and the Forest Service.She said the state statutes governing downtown development authorities don’t limit the vote to taxpaying property owners. Also eligible are tax-exempt property owners such as governments, and residents and others who are leasing property.DDA volunteer Bob Zanella said Unsworth’s interpretation of the law passed muster with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. But he said he personally doesn’t think tax-exempt entities should have been able to vote. He said he feels it’s fair to let tenants vote because the cost of the tax could be passed on to them through their rent.Altogether, 220 parties registered to vote in the downtown election, and all but 61 had voted as of Monday morning. Zanella said he believes 840 had been eligible to register for the election.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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