Cedaredge voters to decide on sales tax hike
By Hank Lohmeyer
Published Thursday, October 22, 2015 7:49 am
Cedaredge voters are facing a tax increase question on the November ballot that was mailed last week.
If they approve it, the proposed Healthy Living lifestyles tax would increase sales and use taxes from 2 percent to 2.5 percent, a 25 percent increase in the sales and use tax on things that everyone from retirees to working families use every day including vehicles, building materials and food.
In addition, the tax question would remove limits on government spending growth established by the state's voters with TABOR (the Taxpayer's' Bill of Rights amendment).
Money from the tax increase, if approved, would go into four different town budget funds: streets; recreational, capital improvements; general capital improvements and the general fund. The question allocated 20 percent of the increased revenue to the street capital improvements fund, 20 percent to the recreation capital improvements fund, 15 percent to the capital improvements fund, and 45 percent to the general fund.
The ballot question before voters places no other restrictions on use of the money the tax would raise.
The town estimates the extra 1/2 cent sales tax will generate as much as $90,000 in the first full year. If realized, this would be allocated with $18,000 to both the street and recreational capital improvement funds, $13,500 to the capital improvement fund and $40,500 to the general fund.
Town Hall tailored the tax increase proposal from results of a Healthy Living lifestyles survey sent to residents last spring. But the tax increase question voters are seeing on their ballots doesn't mention healthy living or lifestyles at all. It does not identify any specific projects for the increased tax revenue.
Proponents say the recreation capital improvement fund will be a restricted category within the capital improvement fund and would be used for such things as recreation, open spaces, trails and sidewalks. Others counter the question gives no clue as to how the money would be spent, especially the significant boost to the general fund.
In the past, the general fund has been used routinely to subsidize the town's enterprise funds -- the sewer fund, the water fund and the golf course fund. The town's Healthy Living survey last spring found that 60 percent (59.74) of respondents oppose using tax money for the golf course.
If approved, the tax increase becomes effective Jan. 1, 2016.