Glenwood looks to take voters’ pulse on tax questions
If you live in Glenwood Springs or the Glenwood Rural Fire Protection District, FrederickPolls may give you a call in the months leading up to the November election.
In an effort to help capital planning and generate more revenue for funding, the poll would try and determine what voters think of possible increases to the current Street Tax Fund, adding a new attractions tax, and whether or not they would support renewing the current property tax for fire and emergency services.
The contract between the city and FrederickPolls, which has not been signed yet, states that the polling company would complete 300 interviews — 225 with residents living within city limits and 75 with those housed in the rural fire district.
Each questionnaire would last between 12 and 14 minutes via telephone (landline or cell). Upon completion, the poll would provide data to the City Council regarding their constituents’ sentiments towards potential tax hikes, new tax creations and tax renewals.
At a Thursday work session, council members and the mayor discussed a draft that contained proposed questions the polling firm might ask residents if in fact hired.
“We need to make some decisions as far as which tax ballot questions to put on the ballot in the fall,” council member Shelley Kaup said.
In order to take the poll, participants must be registered to vote in the state of Colorado.
According to a draft of the questionnaire, one question, intended for in-city residents only, inquired, “Would you vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to increase the Glenwood City Sales tax by one half cent with all the new money going to fix, repair,and upgrade city streets?”
“The state of our streets is of concern to a lot of people and rightfully so. I believe everybody on the City Council feels the same,” council member Jim Ingraham said. “We are thinking of different ways to fund that, so that can be done in a reasonably timely manner.”
Another potential question, again, intended for the city residents, specifically, asked, “Would you vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to subject tourist attractions in Glenwood Springs to the same 3.7 percent sales tax charged on all other business sales, with this new revenue used to maintain streets, beautify the city,and increase police patrols downtown?”
“Let’s say we run up to Mr. Beckley’s adventure park on the hill or to one of the rafting companies, something like that, there’s no tax paid,” Ingraham said. “This potential tax has actually been brought before the council by some of the people who operate these companies.
“It’s a way to generate some additional revenue that might go into things like beautification to additional policing, things of that nature that would benefit everybody including those businesses that would be collecting and rebidding that tax,” Ingraham said.
The poll would also request feedback from voters regarding everything from, “The overall quality of life in the Glenwood Springs area,” to “the job performance of the Glenwood Springs Fire and Rescue District.”
“We are reaching the end of the tax that funds the Fire Department or a portion of those operations, and that’s a very important element of what the city delivers to the taxpayers for safety, fire protection and EMS services,” Councilor Kaup said. “We want to have a good understanding of what the voters’ sentiment is on how do we structure a new tax question to renew that tax.”
If the contract between the Glenwood Springs Fire District and FrederickPolls does in fact win approval, learning about the taxpayers’ sentiments may end up also costing the taxpayers $16,000. However, at the work session, the potential cost of the poll was hardly mentioned.
“I honestly, you know, I don’t know exactly. That’s the recommendation that’s being brought from staff and the Financial Advisory Board, so I would probably just go on their recommendation,” said Kaup regarding the poll’s potential price tag.
A member of the Glenwood Springs Financial Advisory Board for over two years, Ingraham has served on the council only since the beginning of February. Regarding the polling project’s potential $16,000 cost, “I assume that if this amount was quoted was way out of line from amounts that had been paid previously, then somebody would have questioned that.”
According to a staff report, “The contractors we are using are the firms that provided polling services for the A&I tax initiative in 2016.” City voters agreed in a follow-up election to extend that tax and to allow for a bond issue to pay for a range of public works projects using the tax proceeds.