Auto use tax asked of New Castle voters
With other town funds depleted and too little money in the general fund to pay for new projects or programs, a group of New Castle residents got together to seek a solution.
The Community Revenue Committee as a result is urging voters to vote yes on Ballot issue 2A in the Nov. 7 mail-in election.
The proposal is for a one-time, 3.5 percent use tax collected when New Castle residents purchase a new or used vehicle that requires registration.
New Castle is the only Garfield County community that does not currently collect this tax, which is projected to raise $330,000 annually for the town, if approved.
New Castle’s general fund balance currently stands at $541,509.
“We were stretched to meet the community needs and wanted to explore new revenue sources,” said Loran Randles, a member of the Community Revenue Committee. “We started meeting twice a month since the spring. We worried that the town would be forced to cut some of the things that make New Castle special.”
In 2009, oil and gas revenue funded 21 percent of the town’s total operating expenses of $2,997,638. In 2016, that number dropped to 5 percent. Total direct distributions from oil and gas are expected to remain below $125,000 for several years after supplying the town $642,254 in 2009, according to information from the committee.
“As citizens, neighbors, friends and families of New Castle, we support this tax because it will help us support our community’s core values and maintain and improve the things we care about for ourselves, our children and our visitors,” states promotional material for the tax.
New Castle does not allow retail marijuana sales, and Randles said that the use tax serves as an alternative to revenue from an industry that does not match the values of the community.
If approved by voters, the use tax will be earmarked for projects that 1) promote public safety; 2) establish a pathway to create a playing field and fieldhouse complex; 3) maintain and expand recreation; 4) support community volunteer groups; or 5) market and brand New Castle.
A citizen advisory board will be formed to prioritize the distribution of annual revenues among the five categories.