Friday, August 7, 2015

Shall taxes be increased?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 1:10 PM

click to enlarge Mayor John Suthers: A tax increase is coming to a ballot near you. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mayor John Suthers: A tax increase is coming to a ballot near you.
On Tuesday, City Council will vote Tuesday on Mayor John Suthers' proposal to refer a measure to the November 3 ballot that would increase the city sales tax by .62 of a percent for five years, or $50 million annually.

Here's the ballot language:

SHALL CITY TAXES BE TEMPORARILY INCREASED $50,000,000 ANNUALLY BY LEVYING 0.62% SALES/USE TAX FOR ROAD REPAIRS/IMPROVEMENTS TO TERMINATE 12/31/2020, CONSTITUTING A VOTER-APPROVED REVENUE CHANGE EXEMPT FROM SPENDING/REVENUE LIMITATIONS?

The resolution to be adopted by Council goes on to state that the new citywide sales tax rate, if the new tax is approved, would increase from 2.5 percent to 3.12 percent.

Other provisions:

  • The tax would become effective Jan. 1, 2016 and end Dec. 31, 2020.
  • It would not be applied to purchases of food for domestic home consumption, prescriptions, residential utility bills or other items exempt from City Sales and Use Tax under the City Code. (We guess that means that commercial and industry utility customers would pay the tax on their bills.)
  • The new money wouldn't be used to hire more city workers or purchase equipment.
  • The road work would be contracted to the private sector.
  • The new tax money would be "in addition to, and not in lieu of, amounts currently being expended by the city for road maintenance and improvements."
Here's the list of roads that would be improved during the five-year program.

Look for the wealthy segment of our community, including developers, to donate tons of cash to a "vote yes" committee. According to the City Clerk's Office's website, no such group has formed yet.

Also look for Douglas Bruce, author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), to raise lots of questions, including whatever happened to the $70 million a year the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority has been getting for 10 years? While some of that money is earmarked for transit service and large projects, such as Union Boulevard and Austin Bluffs Parkway overpass, some is supposed to be spent on maintenance.

Anyway, let the games begin.

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