Imposing transit fee could prove taxing

Lynn Burton
Staff Writer

Garfield County is asking the Roaring Fork Transit Authority to clarify its proposal to impose an annual $10 fee on vehicles registered within the authority’s boundaries.

At Monday’s Garfield County Commission meeting, County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf reminded the board that only Carbondale and Glenwood Springs residents live within the authority boundaries. She said it might be difficult to determine which residents would be assessed the vehicle registration fee and which ones wouldn’t.

“There are a lot of things that need to be looked at,” Alsdorf said after the meeting.

The Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA), which operates buses from Rifle to Aspen, will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed registration fee at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Eagle County Community Center in El Jebel .

Dan Blankenship, RFTA’s executive director, said the fee would raise $350,000 to $400,000 per year. Last week, he told the Glenwood Springs City Council it could go into effect this year.

Blankenship said Monday that RFTA general counsel Renee Black has been working with county clerks in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties and the Colorado Department of Revenue to work out details concerning the proposed fee.

High on RFTA’s list is determining the method by which Garfield County residents would be assessed the fee when they buy their vehicle license plates each year.

That’s because only residents inside Carbondale and Glenwood Springs town limits are included in the authority boundaries.

Residents in unincorporated parts of Garfield County, and those in New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute, are not included in the authority boundaries.

Further complicating the residency issue are people who live on Missouri Heights, but have Carbondale addresses.

“Carbondale addresses cut a pretty wide swath,” Blankenship said.

Blankenship said the Colorado Department of Revenue can, by law, collect and disburse RFTA’s sales tax. No such provision exists for the proposed vehicle fee.

“So that’s a dilemma,” Blankenship said.

The Garfield County commissioners went into executive session following Alsdorf’s remarks Monday. When the commissioners emerged, they instructed county attorney Don Deford to write a letter to RFTA to address their concerns.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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