Council won't ask for Howelsen tax

Members vote unanimously against measure

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— The City Council decided not to ask for a property tax supporting the Howelsen Hill Complex.

At Tuesday's meeting, the council voted 7-0 against the tax question. Council members said the tax would overload the Nov. 5 ballot and the city needed more information about the needs of the complex's different facilities.

With just two meetings left before the November ballot is certified, the council approved the second and final reading of the fire safety tax, the first reading of the ballot question on forming the water authority and tabled the decision on an excise tax repealing impact fees.

The handful of city tax issues, combined with county and state initiatives was too much with the Howelsen Hill tax, Councilman Paul Strong said.

"Our ballot is overloaded. I am not going to be able to support this item," Strong said.

The Howelsen Hill tax was proposed for 2.8 mills and would have increased property taxes by $76.86 for a $300,000 house. If passed, the tax was expected to raise $1.1 million and go toward funding the operations and maintenance for the ski hill, Nordic trails, ski jumps, athletic fields, ice arena and rodeo grounds.

John Adams, who heads the Colorado Ski Heritage Committee, said he backed any vehicle that produced funds for the complex and he would gather the people to support it. But he said the city should take a closer look at the needs of the facilities.

Adams questioned the $1.1 million the tax would raise and said no one from the complex's different facilities was consulted on future needs.

"It could use a little more work and effort to get the groups together and get input," Adams said. "A more concerted effort from all of the groups would get more support for the tax."

Councilman Bud Romberg supported not putting the question on this year's ballot, but said if the city does not want to decrease services more, taxes are needed.

"I think we want to be forthright. We don't want to give the impression that the fire issue is all (the city) is going to need. We need to make sure they recognize a tax is needed for additional funding if we are not going to decrease services," Romberg said.

The council unanimously approved putting the Fire Safety tax on the ballot, which would collect up to $1.9 million. The proposed 5-mill levy would increase property taxes by $137 for a $300,000 house.

Resident Bob Enever said he supports the city's move to use property taxes instead of sales taxes, but he said if property taxes were going to be in place he would like to see a reduction in sales taxes.

The city tabled its third tax issue. Before voting on a 1.2 percent tax on all new construction to replace impact fees, the council agreed to wait until the Sept. 3 meeting when members of the Impact Fee Committee could discuss the issue.

The council also approved the first reading of an ordinance asking voters to approve the consolidation of the city's water and sewer system with the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District.

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