McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Piling on when we’re down |

McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Piling on when we’re down

Mike McKibbin
McKibbin’s Scribblin’s
Mike McKibbin
Staff Photo |

As you might have figured out if you’re a regular reader of this column, I’m a little partial to well known sayings by those with much more wisdom than myself.

This time, it’s “Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse.”

The Citizen Telegram has faithfully reported how the City of Rifle’s sales tax revenues have fared for at least the last year and a half, maybe a bit longer. However many months it’s been since I reclaimed my current position at this august publication.

And for what feels like nearly all that time, you’ve read how those revenues have lagged behind projections and behind the previous year’s revenues. It’s been a sad story to report, brought to the forefront by the closure of so many businesses – some very long standing businesses that had become a very welcome part of the community – that I was motivated to write about the “four corners of solitude” at Third Street and Railroad Avenue. Right now, they’re still pretty quiet in terms of customer activity.

Now it turns out the city is suffering, or will suffer, even more in its sales tax coffers, and this time the culprit isn’t the downtrodden local economy. It’s the legal system.

To explain, here are a series of edited email messages between myself and the city finance director, Charles Kelty, who gets to report the depressing news each month to the City Council and, through The Citizen Telegram, to city residents.

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 10:01 a.m.

To: Charles Kelty

I happened to read a story in the Daily Sentinel over the weekend about the sales tax refunds that some of the districts, like the library district, have had to make to energy companies. Does the City of Rifle have to do that, too? I think it’s just the special districts, but thought I’d ask.

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 2:37 p.m.

To: Mike McKibbin

I thought I’d better clarify your comments regarding the sales tax refunds. Are you referring to the refunds being made to the oil and gas industry as a result of the State of Colorado losing a lawsuit with the oil and gas industry? If you are, that lawsuit does impact the City of Rifle; however, not to the degree it impacts special districts, such as the library.

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 3:29 p.m.

To: Charles Kelty

What I was trying to ask was could this lawsuit be part of the reason the city’s sales tax revenue has been down for so long? I’m thinking not, since the city would reimburse the industry from money on hand. So can you tell me how the city is impacted by the lawsuit?

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 3:33 p.m.

To: Mike McKibbin

That lawsuit does not impact the City of Rifle’s sales taxes. We collect our own sales taxes. However, it impacts county and special district taxes collected by the State of Colorado. Garfield County does allocate a portion of the county sales tax to the various municipalities within the county. As a result, the amount the county has shared with its municipalities has been basically cut in half. Approximate annual impact to the City of Rifle has been around $100,000.

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 3:42 p.m.

To: Charles Kelty

I think I finally get it…When you say the city’s sales tax revenue is down, if we don’t include the water plant tax, that does not include the county remitting half of what it used to send to Rifle. Right?

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 5:05 p.m.

To: Mike McKibbin

That’s correct, Mike.

That’s the end of the emails. Now, I’m not debating the merits of the industry’s lawsuit. They obviously proved their point to at least one judge. While Kelty’s point about the special districts and county suffering more than the city due to its outcome points to a big concern, the bottom line for Rifle is that whatever number the city ends up with in its sales tax revenue column at the end of this year, we might want to subtract another $100,000 from what we expected to see.

Great. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse…

Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.

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