The City of Delta is weighing how a TABOR refund of $36,315 should be returned to citizens before the end of the year.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, limits the amount of revenue governmental authorities can retain and spend. While sales tax has been de-Bruced, several other funds have not. When the city has ended the year with excess revenue in the past, it's been divided among utility customers by crediting each customer's bill. That would amount to just over $8 per customer. While staff and council members recognize that's a meaningful sum for many low-income residents, city attorney David McConaughy explained it's also possible to use the refund for a community asset the citizens would enjoy. Playground improvements, restroom upgrades and art projects were some examples provided during a council work session on May 7. The funds could also be used in West Legacy Park, the pocket park that will be developed after the demolition of West Appliance Center.
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. Council members are debating whether to try again in the November election, when the city could piggyback on a question about renewing a franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy. Renewal requires voter approval, city manager David Torgler said, so the city is already looking at paying its share of a coordinated ballot.
With building development picking up, and interest rates increasing, it's possible the city will be looking at another refund in 2019 if no action is taken. "If you want to take it to the voters, we need to start the education as soon as possible," Torgler cautioned council members.
A council decision is not needed until late September. In the meantime, staff will prepare a list of options for community assets that could be funded with the 2018 TABOR refund.