Glenwood Springs advisory board drives street tax for April ballot
Exactly how to go about fixing Glenwood Springs’ less-than-stellar city streets has been a rocky road full of twists, turns and at times dead ends.
However, following a unanimous recommendation from the city’s Financial Advisory Board (FAB) and after gauging Community on the Move’s willingness to campaign for a street sales tax, City Council appears poised to send the question to Glenwood voters this April.
In 2005, a 0.5 percent sales tax, intended to help maintain and rebuild the city’s streets, was passed and will remain in effect until 2026. As evidenced in correspondence between the FAB and City Council, though, the amount of revenue that tax generates barely covers street maintenance.
“It was simply a matter of when, not if, the city would need to bring this to the voters,” FAB Chairwoman Kathryn Trauger said in a recent interview. “The Financial Advisory Board felt now was the proper time.”
While council has yet to officially vote on whether to put a street sales tax question on the April ballot, according to Councilor Jonathan Godes, in all likelihood, voters will be asked to vote on a 0.75 percent street sales tax this spring. As is being discussed, the tax would sunset after 20 years with all of the funds going directly toward fixing the city’s streets.
Godes explained that the 0.5 percent sales tax currently in place would continue to fund street maintenance through 2026. In addition, the new tax would run through 2039.
Godes stressed that if the 0.75 percent sales tax made it on the ballot and earned the support of voters, not a penny would get siphoned off to any project that did not involve fixing the city’s streets.
“Yes, I support a ballot question for a limited term and specific to a street reconstruction plan,” Councilor Shelley Kaup said of the FAB’s recommendation. “I am in favor because it is evident that our existing half-cent street tax is not keeping up with our street reconstruction needs.”
At a December FAB meeting, the board hosted members of Community on the Move to discuss the plausibility of getting a street tax question on the ballot, and the likelihood of it passing. At that Dec. 17 meeting, those in attendance discussed and correspondence concluded that, “City Council should be unanimous in its decision to put a tax on the ballot and must individually participate in the efforts to seek passage much more than council members have in the past.
“Council cannot rely on Community on the Move to do this alone,” according to the staff memo, which referenced the ad hoc Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association committee that has gotten behind numerous city tax proposals in the past.
“I really can’t say enough good things about how Community on the Move has supported and helped the city of Glenwood over the years,” Trauger emphasized.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Councilor Kaup.
“It is my understanding that Community on the Move is in support of the measure. They are a voice for the community, and their recommendations are important,” Kaup said.
Chamber President and CEO Angie Anderson said Community on the Move was still in the process of gathering information regarding the street sales tax ahead of formally deciding whether to endorse the measure.
The current sales tax rate in Glenwood sits at 3.7 percent. The passage of a 0.75 percent street sales tax would raise it to 4.45 percent, bringing the total tax rate paid by retail customers, including local, regional and state sales taxes, from 8.6 percent to 9.35 percent, according to an FAB memorandum.