Basalt council passes $6.31 million budget | AspenTimes.com

Basalt council passes $6.31 million budget

BASALT – The Basalt Town Council approved a $6.31 million budget Tuesday that anticipates flat sales tax revenues and adjusts the mill levy to limit the amount of property taxes collected.

The town also anticipates only a mild recovery in building permit fees, which plummeted this year.

The town council was careful Tuesday night to officially make a “temporary” adjustment to the property tax rate so that it won’t find itself short of revenues in the future.

Property valuations soared this year despite the recession. There is a lag between current market values and the period the state government examined to set values for tax purposes. Therefore, many special taxing districts are reaping a windfall in revenues unless they adjust their mill levies.

The Basalt town government didn’t have as much discretion as many other taxing districts. Five different state regulations limit the town’s taxing ability, according to finance director Judi Tippetts.

The town dropped its total mill levy from 5.1807 this year to 3.873 next year. That will raise about $604,000. By designating it as a temporary adjustment, the town will be able to raise the tax rate in two years if necessary. It is widely believed that property valuations will be down in 2011, the next year the state requires an adjustment. If a mill levy is frozen, it would bring in less money with lower valuations.

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Basalt’s 2010 budget anticipates revenues from the town’s 2 percent general sales tax won’t increase from the current year. The town budgeted for $2.75 million in sales tax revenues. Another 1 percent sales tax dedicated to park, open space and trails will raise about $1.07 million.

The town will get little contribution to its coffers from building permit fees. The town collected $475,345 from permits for new construction in 2007. That fell by nearly half in 2008 and is down to an estimated $38,000 this year. The town expects only a modest increase in construction activity in 2010, with building permits raising $50,000.

The town’s total revenues will be $5.88 million next year. It will have to dip into reserves for $431,390 to cover the budgeted expenditures of $6.31 million.

scondon@aspentimes.com