Carbondale voters deciding whether to renew improvements tax
Carbondale voters are being asked in the April 3 mail ballot election whether to extend for an extra 10 years a special property tax that has paid for numerous public improvements around town.
Ballot Issue 2A on the Carbondale ballot does not ask for an increase in the 1.5 mill levy. Rather, it would continue a tax that has been on the books since voters first approved it in 1999, and was reauthorized in 2010.
The so-called “streetscape tax” was used to pay for an array of public improvements, including the streetscape project along Main Street that was done in the early 2000s. Most recently, it paid for the Third Street rehabilitation. And planned for this year is a new sidewalk along Third Street north to Colorado Avenue.
“Without the streetscape fund, the town would not have the funds to complete street enhancement projects,” according to a letter of support included with the required TABOR notice that went out to town voters recently.
“If approved, the streetscape projects identified in the town’s capital improvements plan include similar projects, such as additional safety enhancements, sidewalk projects and other street enhancements,” it read. “Another potential use of this fund, if approved, includes adding or enhancing parking downtown.”
No statements were issued opposing the tax extension.
Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson also spoke on behalf of the Board of Trustees in favor of the tax renewal in a March 8 column in the Sopris Sun newspaper.
“I believe Carbondale is more self-sufficient than many Colorado towns in that for sales tax, our main source of revenue, we rely on our immediate community much more than we rely on importing shoppers from long distances,” Richardson wrote. “I like the fact that we can control our own destiny more this way.
“Part of what has allowed us to be more self-sufficient has been a property tax dedicated to improving Carbondale’s streetscape for almost 20 years,” he continued. “Now the Board of Trustees is asking voters to renew it in April.”
Richardson also noted that, despite annual inflation of project costs, the town has made a conscious decision not to request an increase in this tax at this time.
The tax question is being decided in the mail ballot election where voters will also pick from five candidates to fill four seats on the town board. Incumbents Erica Sparhawk, Heather Henry and Luis Yllanes are running for election after having been appointed to the board within the last two years. Joining them in the race are April Spaulding and Lani Kitching.
The candidates receiving the top three number of votes will serve four-year terms on the board, and the fourth-highest vote getter will serve a two-year term.
Mayor Richardson is also running unopposed for re-election.
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Current Basalt officials say the town government has violated the Colorado Taxpayers’ Bill of Right by increasing the property tax mill levy over the prior years 10 times since the mid-2000s. Two former mayors contend the mill levy could be adjusted in any given year as long as it didn’t exceed the mill levy in 1994. It’s a $2 million question.