Letter: Exhaust available funds and scrutinize expenditures before adding taxes
February 13, 2019
Initially I supported the concept of an additional sales tax to fund street repairs but I failed to fully consider the implications. There is no question of the need, but it would be prudent to make certain we have exhausted all available funds and scrutinized all expenditures before we add additional taxes.
The budget of the City of Glenwood Springs is heavily dependent on sales tax. Final 2018 numbers are not yet available, but it is virtually certain that the total proceeds to the city will have been in excess of $18 million. The area that generates the largest percentage of these taxes, approximately 20 percent, is the Meadows where Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and other businesses are located. This area is required to charge a "PIF" of 1.5 percent on every sale, and it is also subject to sales tax. If the current sales tax proposal on the April ballot were to pass, this would make the total percentage added to purchase prices there 10.99 percent. This would be the second-highest in western Colorado after the town of Snowmass, which is not a competitor to our retail economy. I think it would be unwise to think that this would not affect the behavior of consumers.
It's true that most of our sales taxes are paid by nonresidents. That could change. Sales tax in Carbondale is 8.4 percent, New Castle is 8.2 percent, and Rifle is 8.15 percent, while Glenwood would be 9.35 percent. The combination of sales and accommodations taxes in Glenwood would be 12.42 percent on lodging. The additional taxes wouldn't kill the geese that lay the golden eggs, but some of them would certainly decide not to visit or shop in our town.
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