Pitkin County mulls road tax
August 7, 2008
ASPEN ” Pitkin County officials are still mulling a ballot question that would ask voters to raise county property taxes in order to keep the county’s road system in shape.
Brian Pettet, county road and bridges supervisor, said Tuesday that he has been meeting with various caucuses and neighborhood groups for the last month or so, to assess how residents think the county should deal with its deteriorating system of roads.
And he has gotten an earful ” from complaints about the rocks on the roads to suspicions that the county is pulling “a shell game,” in the words of one commentator.
Pettet has submitted pages of comments, quoting citizens attending the various meetings, including one from a man who said, “My daughter was almost killed by a rock.”
In the Aug. 5 memo, Pettet quoted remarks made at meetings of the Aspen Commercial Core and Lodging Commission and various neighborhood groups ” Shield O Mesa, Lazy Glen, the Frying Pan Caucus, the Emma Caucus, the North 40 Homeowners Association, Sopris Mountain Ranch and the Snowmass/Capital Caucus, among others.
“It’s really a quality-of-life community decision as to what they (citizens) want their roads system to be like,” he said.
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Pettet explained that the county’s road network, which has been maintained to the tune of $1.9 million from the county’s general fund for a number of years, is deteriorating faster than that level of funding can deal with.
He said a consultant cautioned the county that it needs to be spending between $5 million and $8 million per year on the roads to keep them in shape.
The tax hike now being considered ” $23 per $1,000 of assessed valuation ” would generate $7.9 million per year in revenues, he said. The funds would take care of the safety and capacity issues facing the roads, including about 10 miles of roads threatened by serious erosion.
That amount, he said, would represent a “dedicated” property tax that could not be spent on anything but roads and bridges. He said the $1.9 million the county has been spending out of its general revenues would then be put to other uses.
Pettet said county commissioners are expected to make a decision about the tax hike within the next couple of weeks ” in time to get the measure on the November general election ballot.