Boards discuss tax options

City Council, commissioners ponder ballot questions

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— A crowded November ballot could have some tax proposals waiting until next year before voters will get a chance to cast their approval.

On Tuesday night, the City Council and Routt County Commissioners discussed which tax proposals would likely be seen in November.

The county will ask voters for a mill levy increase of no more than 1.5 to fund the renovations to the Routt County Courthouse. And the city is looking at increasing property taxes to fund long-term capital projects.

Those taxes, combined with the possibility of a city tax that would repeal the current impact fee and a tax that would go toward historic preservation, could bloat the November ballot.

"At this point in time, I think this is an overload," Councilman Paul Strong said. "I think the more you put on the ballot, the less chance you have of passing anything."

City Manager Paul Hughes said a better idea of what the city could propose for November's ballot will come at the June 10 meeting. But City Finance Director Don Taylor told the boards the city would have to cut up to $1 million a year from its operating budget to meet capital improvement projects that have been scheduled until 2008.

The city has looked at a combination of tax increases, including a straight mill increase, an increase in property tax with the elimination of a tax on food and an increase in property taxes with a tax exemption on the first $50 of a monthly gas and electric bill.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak suggested part of the city's revenue problems could be solved if the city asked taxpayers to approve a mill levy for the operating costs and capital projects of the fire district. In recent elections, local voters have approved tax increases for fire district spending.

Strong made his comment to limit the number of items on the ballot after the two boards discussed the possibility of forming a historic preservation district that could raise taxes for supporting the county's museums. Last week, the Tread of Pioneers Museum had come before the council and commissioners asking for public support to keep the museum afloat.

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