Passage of ballot question would triple New Castle portion of property tax bill
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
NEW CASTLE ” A ballot question for the April 8 election contemplates more than tripling the town’s portion of New Castle property owners’ property tax bills.
The tax increase would go toward repaying $8 million in bonds the city would issue to improve the town’s drinking water treatment plant. The tax could last for up to 15 years before sunsetting.
But Mayor Frank Breslin said, “The $8 million in bonds is an absolute worst-case scenario. We don’t expect it’s going to cost that much.”
There’s a good chance the $8 million figure would be paid down by grant money, and future growth would share the tax burden, which would cause citizens to pay less and the tax increase to sunset earlier, he said.
“We have always been very successful at securing grant financing,” Breslin said.
The town says the tax measure is needed to upgrade the water treatment plant to replace aging infrastructure and expand capacity. For example, an antiquated water intake system on east Elk Creek would be upgraded so that workers don’t have to stack rocks in the creek to guide water toward the intake. Improvements would upgrade other 25-year-old technologies.
Breslin, speaking as an individual and not as the mayor, said there are about 10 tax authorities in Garfield County. New Castle taxes 6.906 mills, or $6.906 on every thousand dollars of property value. The town’s portion would more than triple, increasing by a factor of 3.24.
If the ballot question is approved, Breslin said, a home valued at $365,880 would see the New Castle portion of its property tax increase by $451. That would be the worst case scenario with no grants or future growth factored in, he added.
Some criticized the proposal, saying it asks for too much money and there’s adequate water supply for current demand. A summary of written comments against the ballot question says the town hasn’t tackled a strong, effective water conservation program to make the expansion of the plant unnecessary.
But Breslin said the town has worked on a water conservation plan for about 18 years focusing on metering water. There’s a tiered rate structure to penalize people who use excessive amounts of water by up to 10 times the normal rate.
“It’s unethical for people to waste water that way,” he said, adding the town is looking into xeriscaping and education programs to further conserve water use.
Critics also said the tax increases could hurt businesses and stifle economic development, and the plan should address new growth picking up its share of the cost and conserving water.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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