In a meeting held Sept. 3, Delta City Council adopted a resolution allocating the excess funds collected by the city during the 2018 fiscal year toward certain Main Street improvements. These funds, $36,315 of a TABOR refund, have been a city council discussion item for several months.
Delta Mayor Ron Austin said the improvements planned for Main Street are “relatively minor, but add up.”
A lot will be left up to staff discretion as they’ve been directed to spend the full amount toward the following capital improvements including, but not limited to: new and additional trash cans; new and additional benches matching trash can design/color; banners for street poles and for the tall light poles; additional outlets with LED lighting on corners; hardware for tall poles on the corners for the banners and the lighting; and one set of across the street banner poles.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, limits the amount of revenue governmental authorities can retain and spend. TABOR caps revenue from city franchise taxes, occupation taxes, licenses and permits, court fines and forfeitures, interest revenue and other miscellaneous revenues.
The city has tried to de-Bruce those funds three times with no success. Earlier this year council debated whether to try again with de-Brucing the excess funds by posing a ballot question but decided against, claiming there were already several tax issues up for vote and they didn’t want to create confusion.
In the past, the city has been unable to narrow down ways to use the revenues and defaulted to dividing the refund among utility customers by crediting each bill. In evaluating the options for the refund this year, council determined a direct refund in such a manner would “provide a negligible benefit to individual citizens of the city,” according to the resolution.
Other ideas debated for the refund’s use included contracting out for a new non-budgeted mural, improving/finishing the Highway 50 road islands (medians left after the truck route), non-budgeted water lines, a boat ramp, a traffic light on Highway 348 bypass, roundabouts and a storm water project which has not been budgeted for in the five year schedule.
To qualify for use the excess funds have to be allocated for projects not otherwise planned or budgeted and that will serve as a community asset and provide community benefits. Completion of the project(s) also has to be done before Dec. 31. Ultimately after evaluation it was determined improvements to Main Street would be the best benefit able to be completed by the deadline.