Littleton has a new sales tax. Here is what it means.
Leaders in the town of Littleton were considering the worst-case scenario if a proposal to increase the town’s sales tax had not passed in the election that ended on November 2.
“It was a make or die vote,” said Scott Melin, outgoing At-Large Council member, in an interview with Colorado Community Media.
Voters broadly supported the so-called 3A initiative, which was adopted with nearly 59% of the vote.
The proposal will increase the city’s sales tax by 0.75%, or 75 cents on every $ 100 spent, and is expected to raise about $ 9 million per year for the Capital Projects Fund to pay more than 70 overdue projects. This is the first time the city has increased its sales tax in nearly 50 years.
“It’s never easy to ask for a tax increase, but I thank voters for understanding the urgency of the need,” City Manager Mark Relph said in a statement.
The issue had brought together sitting council members, as well as candidates, who said its passage was the best way to secure stable funding for the city’s Capital Projects Fund, which was slated to reach $ 0. ‘by 2025. The fund finances vital urban projects such as road repairs, maintenance of public buildings and maintenance of police fleets.
If city leaders had failed to secure the new revenues, they worried about a future where more budget cuts were imminent.
Sean Walsh, a political consultant who spearheaded the campaign for 3A, said the support of the nine council candidates was “a huge advantage” in bringing the vote to the finish line.
Council members celebrated his passing.
“I am incredibly grateful to the citizens of this community for their support (3A),” said Kelly Milliman, District 4 council member.
Patrick Driscoll, a member of the Littleton District 1 council, said with new income guaranteed he hopes public works can begin in a few months.
“You’re going to see a huge transformation from January, February,” said Driscoll, who had been one of the main supporters of pushing 3A on this year’s poll. “We are going to get to work”
The success of the tax hike also brings a sigh of relief to the newly elected board members who feel they can get started as soon as they take office.
“It’s a clear sign that people believe ‘yes we want to take care of the things we love’,” said Stephen Barr, who won the election to a council seat representing Littleton District 3.
With the new funding, city leaders plan to tackle what they see as long neglected investments in Littleton’s infrastructure, such as reducing congestion by building a road to divert traffic from l he intersection of Santa Fe Drive and West Mineral Avenue, one of the busiest areas in the city. .
The funds will also be used to restore public services and community centers that had been reduced due to the pandemic.
Jerry Valdes, the outgoing mayor of Littleton who will now be a member of District 2 council, said he hopes part of the money can be used to rehire staff at the Bemis Library and the Littleton Museum to make both “better than ever”.
Funds will also be spent on securing body cameras for all Littleton police officers, in line with the state’s police reform bill that passed last summer. The law requires all Colorado police departments to provide body cameras to their officers by July 1, 2023.
But despite majority support, the sales tax increase raised eyebrows among Littleton business owners who said higher prices for customers could hurt them.
Pat Dunahay, co-chair of the Littleton Business Chamber and owner of DA Roadgear, a car accessories and audio store, said he explained in his store how 3A might stifle some business as customers may be inclined to buy certain products in places with a lower sales tax, such as Englewood.
“My guys are always nervous whenever there is something bad for business,” Dunahay said.
Still, Dunahay said he supported 3A and voted for it.
“We all want good roads, we all want good cops, we all want good community,” he said.
Dunahay said the chamber of commerce sent an internal investigation to determine where business owners landed on the sales tax increase. They found that the owners were almost 50-50 split on their support for the switch to 3A.
Pat Sommers, owner of Shirt off my Back and partner of Jackass Hill Brewery, both located on Main Street, said he supports the tax increase but hopes it will be the only one for the foreseeable future. He said the city must be vigilant to keep its taxes low enough so as not to hamper business growth.
“They can’t keep coming back until we pay a 12% tax rate or something,” he said. “It’s a fine line that you have to draw.”
Sommers said he trusted city staff to use the money in a fiscally responsible manner.
Dunahay has proposed a possible extinction of the 0.50% sales tax if the city meets its targets faster than expected, which Valdes says is “realistic to consider”.
But Sommers is not convinced that will happen.
“I have never seen money that is not used,” he said.
To allay the concerns of some citizens about how their tax money will be used, Driscoll said city council and staff are planning to create an advisory council that will act as a watchdog for how the money is spent.
“We’re going to prove year after year where this money is going,” Driscoll said. “I’m really excited about how this will prove the transparency we’re going to have behind this.”